International patient process during COVID-19 safety measures

Elena Pardo
Head of the International Patient Unit
International patient process
From this video you will find out:
  • When can we start treatment in Spain?
  • Which COVID-19 safety measure do we have to take into account?
  • Which tests can we undergo at our home country?
  • How many times will we need to travel to Valencia, Spain?
  • Do you have any accommodation addresses where we can book our stay?
  • Do we need a specific document to travel to Valencia?


What are the COVID-19 safety measures at IVF clinics for interntional patients?

Watch the Online Patient Meeting with Elena Pardo, Head of the International Patient Unit at Equipo Juana Crespo and listen to the answers to questions about the process for international patients at their clinic in Spain.

- Questions and Answers

When can we start treatment in Spain?

We are resuming all the treatments now that needed to be put on hold, as it was advised and we are contacting all of our patients and going ahead with all the treatments. For people who have not yet started treatment, it is possible to book an online consultation with us and start with the pre-diagnosis, start preparations and start the treatment already and so hope to be able to come to Spain in a very short term.

Which COVID-19 safety measure do we have to take into account?

From the perspective of patients who need to go with safety measures, 4-5 aspects need to be taken into account. The first one is if you’re about to start treatments, we will check this together with you that you do not have any symptoms at present. If you do have symptoms, we will have to check with a PCR test that it is negative. If your PCR test is negative or you do not have any symptoms and we can start the treatment, it is important that you then monitor your own condition, so that you can proactively let us know if there is any change in your condition, and we can take the necessary measures. It is also important to foresee if you can do a PCR test where you live and if not, tell us in advance whether this is the case. We will see if we can send you a kit if we have the contacts which we are working on and if not, we will together redesign your strategy so that we can make it work and you can take the test here. Then you have to take into account that every time you come for a visit to the clinic, you have to be prepared, we will remind you about it, a nurse will call you but you will have to prepare for the visit by wearing the mask, wearing gloves, being on time, this is very important to minimize everyone’s presence, and to be able to be efficient with the procedures and to maintain the distance and once you’re at the clinic you need to be aware of not touching unnecessarily surfaces f.e. Those are the things that we have to to take into account from the perspective of the patient and lastly it is important that once you start the process, you also maintain as best as possible all the safety measures wherever you live, so distancing, wearing masks when you go outside, it said also said to avoid coming into contact while on the process.

Which tests can we undergo at our home country?

For the preparation of the treatment, from our part, you can do all the necessary tests at your home country. The test, that we usually need is pretty straightforward blood examinations such as serologies and blood groups and preparation for the surgery sometimes karyotype, and in specific cases, we might ask for more specific blood testing and to assess the uterine factor, we also quite often request for a pelvic MRI and a hysterosalpingogram. If you can do all of these tests at your home country, then we are happy with that, and we will only need to get the results back from you.

How many times will we need to travel to Valencia, Spain?

In most cases, two to three times will be enough up to the embryo transfer, but it will always depend on each strategy, whether we need to repair the uterus or to do any tube burgery. In that case, it might take one or two more visits, but I would say on average two to three times would be enough in most cases.

Do you have any accommodation addresses where we can book our stay?

We have at the moment two addresses here in Valencia for accommodation for our patients during the state of alarm. So we will provide patients with this contact and address and help whenever necessary to make a booking, and there should be coming more of those. We are associated with sanitary clusters, and we try to keep informed of any advances with regards to travelling, flight and accommodation.

Do we need a specific document to travel to Valencia?

At this moment, yes, we are issuing certificates to all the patients that need to come to the clinic. In this certificate, we explain the medical reasons, and we highlight the need for the patient or the couple to come, to the clinic. Indeed, we cannot assure patients that this will be valid in every situation because part of these requirements also depend on the Home country legislation or the requirements that they need. It would be helpful if patients can gather some information in advance on what it is that they exactly need but we provide this certificate and we can make any amendments necessary, that is not a problem.

I would like to ask if you offer any advice on Covid-19 testing to enable travel?

We are relying on the PCR test, which is the test that tells us if a person is infected now. If you can first monitor if you have any symptoms, then it would be helpful to do the PCR test and to confirm that it is negative before travelling. If you are thinking about whether there is a requisite of being tested before travel, I would have to check that, as far as we know, it is not. For our patients abroad, if they are able and this PCR test is accessible to them, then it would be helpful to do it beforehand to make sure that that there is no problem.

What is the PCR test?

The PCR stands for a polymerase chain reaction, and it is a type of test where the information shows if someone is infected at present, and this is why we rely on this type of test. There are other tests to check for antibodies, but since that may take a while before a person can make antibodies and we need to ensure that someone is not infected while they are going on treatment or if they are about to go for the procedures, will rely on this test. So this test gives the results in 48-72 hours and it will tell us whether someone is infected, at that moment.

Have you had any insight as to when we may be able to travel to Spain to get treatment? I have frozen eggs to transfer first from the UK, do you know if Spain is accepting transfers from abroad at present?

Indeed, it is a difficult question because it is something that we don’t have clear information on. This is up-to-date information from yesterday. We are associated and in contact with several sanitary clusters. There has been a study of about 600 flight planners, and the expectancy is that by the end of May some flights may restart and probably June, July we might be at a level of good accessibility of flights. It is also a good idea to start any preparation now because, by the time we need to get going, the expectancy is that there would be flights and that people will be able to fly and as you know these are also medical reasons. As for the frozen eggs, I think you mean frozen embryos that you have to transfer from the UK, several conditions have to be met to accept frozen gametes from another country. At present, I’m not sure whether there is any specific ban or any specific requirement during the COVID-19, I think this is something that we can look up for you, so feel free to contact, and we can look into this.

Do you recommend where to get medicines from back in the UK?

Getting medication in your home country will make it easier for the process, in the sense that you do not need to travel to Spain before you start the treatment. There are a number of possibilities, and there’s also the possibility of getting them through some providers that are specialized in getting medication for IVF patients. So, if you want me to get this information, you can contact us through the information on the website and I’d be happy to send you any specific addresses and contacts that we know help patients when the regular way through the doctor proves to be a little bit more difficult.

How long does it take from the beginning of stimulation until we get transferred if we will need to treat a uterine factor?

From the beginning of the stimulation, if we need to treat a uterine factor, we might be thinking at a time range of baby between 4 to 6 months. When we have a uterine or a tubal factor, we need to take care of to ensure that the ‘house’ is as prepared, as perfect as possible before an embryo transfer. Then this is what we should be thinking of. It will depend on each case, sometimes we might speak of 3-4 months and then sometimes we need to extend it to 5 or 6 months.

Can embryos be tested for COVID-19?

There’s no scientific evidence that the virus can inhabit in the embryo. The babies that have been born from mothers who had the COVID-19, there was no trace from the placenta to the embryo and there was no trace in the amniotic liquid or the umbilical cord, so therefore as far as the scientific evidence goes it is not necessary to test embryos for COVID- 19.

Is the EMMA test relevant?

EMMA test that will really depend on each particular case, and it will be the doctor that will have to assess whether it is necessary to do it or not.

What if we were to contract the virus on the plane going over? If you were to test us upon arrival would the virus show up?

We would have to follow up on your medical condition. If you were to contract the virus on the plane normally, it takes a couple of days until the symptoms would show and if you think that there has been any contact which is one of the questions on the questionnaire or that something has happened around you that makes you suspect or think, we can always check but remember that before we go ahead with the actual procedures, we will have every patient tested so nobody will go ahead with any of the procedures, that I mentioned earlier egg retrieval or an embryo transfer or a surgical procedure without a negative PCR, so we will always check up to the last moment and this way everyone will be reassured that we’re doing the things as best as possible, and we are sure to preserve the safety of everyone.

How often do you perform PCR test covid_19 for medical staff of the clinic? Have you done it already? What extra safety measures in the lab do you have for biological materials of HIV positive patients?

We perform a PCR test COVID-19 for medical staff if necessary and always when they show symptoms, so like I said our first filter is a clinical symptom, checkup every day. We know that 82% of infected patients will show symptoms, and if we need to perform PCR tests because of the showing symptoms, all of the tests that are necessary will be performed. I am not someone who is an expert in all the lab procedures, I cannot explain to you exactly what these safety measures are for biological materials of HIV-positive patients. I can assure you that we can treat HIV-positive patients. We always have to look into every personal file, but this is possible, but I will be more than happy to provide you with every specific measure that our lab performs in such case, so please send us an email so that I can fully answer your question.

I have this question that I always ask myself. Is it possible if the fallopian tubes were removed to replace new or artificial fallopian tubes?

No, fallopian tubes cannot be replaced, I am afraid.

If there are 2 or 3 visits needed before embryo transfer, how long roughly would each visit need to be?

In most cases, we’re talking about visits that are roughly about 2 to 3 days. In some cases, maybe a little bit more f.e. the ones related to the transfer may be between 3 to7 days because we might need to see you at the time that you might be prepared, but sometimes we need a couple of days longer, but this is roughly what you would have to think about.
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Picture of Elena Pardo

Elena Pardo

Elena Pardo is responsible for the International Patient Unit at Equipo Juana Crespo. She coordinates and facilitates the process of international patients in every aspect of their tailored treatment, ensuring the quality care, trusting environment and effective communication, both inside and outside the clinic, which are so necessary to provide the best patient experience in a demanding process. She holds a bachelor's degree in Tourism Management, is a certified Coach and multilingual in Spanish, English, Dutch and French. She is proud to help and be part of every patient’s journey at such an outstanding team at Equipo Juana Crespo.
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Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.
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