By Tracey Minella
February 23rd, 2015 at 11:23 am
Did you know that Long Island IVF offered evening office hours? Well not only have we offered extended hours in all of our offices for ages, we’ve added even more!
Infertility treatment can be stressful. And while some appointments and blood tests simply need to be done in the early morning hours, there are times when an evening appointment is feasible and might be more convenient. Especially for those who work full-time or who might be taking off certain mornings for less flexible monitoring appointments.
We’re pleased to announce that in an effort to be even more accessible to her patients, Dr. Satu Kuokkanen will be available on Wednesday evenings in the Lake Success office, starting in March.
The hours, nights, and doctors covering these evening appointments vary for each office so check with your doctor or LIIVF office for the specifics. Or if you are a new patient, contact the office you’re interested in for more information.
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Is the availability of evening doctor appointments an important factor in your decision to choose a reproductive endocrinologist?
By Tracey Minella
February 19th, 2015 at 8:40 pm
You don’t have to be Chinese to appreciate the richness of that culture’s traditions and the mystique of the Chinese methods of enhancing fertility.
The Chinese zodiac consists of a cycle of 12 years, with each year being named for a different animal, and supposedly bestowing upon those born in that year certain characteristics which are similar to the traits of the featured animal.
It’s the celebration of Chinese New Year. The 2014 Year of the Horse is ending. Each year, the passage of one animal year to the next is clear and routine. Except for the year that follows the year of the Horse. This year. Why?
An apparent ambiguity in the interpretation of the term “yang” has led to a difference of opinion among Chinese people on whether the year after the horse is the year of the ram, sheep, or goat. But the Chinese zodiac symbol recognizes it as the year of the Goat, so we’re going with that.
Children born in the Year of the Goat will be among other things “gentle, mild-mannered, shy, stable, sympathetic, amicable, and brimming with a strong sense of kindheartedness and justice”. * How wonderful!
But despite these great Goat qualities, many Chinese people try hard to avoid having children born during the year of the Goat. This is due in part to a popular Chinese folk saying ‘Only one out of ten people born in a year of the Goat finds happiness’ (十羊九不全). While this may seem to be a silly superstition to many…especially to infertile couples who usually wouldn’t care what day or year their baby was born…there is a real concern among many Chinese that Goat babies will be followers, not leaders, and may be destined for failed marriages, unhappy families, and bad luck.*
So, in the spirit of seeking all the good luck we can get when trying to conceive, I offer these four tips taken from Chinese New Year traditions.
Make Dumplings: On New Year’s Eve, the Chinese often celebrate by eating dumplings called “jiaozi”, which translates literally to “sleep together and have sons” according to http://www.theholidayspot.com. If you’re not “culinarily-challenged”, consider making these challenging dumplings.
Sweep Away the Bad Luck: Then, sweep out the house from top to bottom with a broom and give it a good cleaning. It symbolizes the sweeping away of all the bad luck of the past year so the good luck can enter. I do this religiously every single year. It feels authentic. You must try it.
Wear Red: Wear something red. It’s the color of good luck and symbolic of wealth. The Chinese elders often give young ones red envelopes with money inside on Chinese New Year. Maybe you can start a new tradition and break out a red envelope and get your relatives to contribute to the IVF fund.
Hide the Knives: Put away the knives…this is good advice for hormonal women anyway. Using knives and scissors at this time symbolizes the “cutting off” of the good luck and is an omen of bad luck in the year to come. Remember this one at mealtime.
You don’t have to be Chinese to embrace some of the Chinese culture
and have some fun with Chinese New Year traditions. Wear red. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making a batch of jiaozi from an internet recipe. Or just buy some wonton soup! Try your hand at chopsticks. Surround yourself with the richness of red and gold. Sweep out that old bad luck and embrace the New Year that awaits.
Basically, do whatever floats your goat.
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Do you celebrate Chinese New Year or follow any other cultural traditions with fertility-related traditions? Would the characteristics associated with children born in a particular year of the Chinese zodiac impact your family-building plans in any way?
Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Other_Holidays_and_E_g321-Chinese_Lanterns_p140201.html
By Tracey Minella
February 11th, 2015 at 12:24 pm
One of the hardest parts of undergoing in vitro fertilization is the difficult decision of how many embryos to transfer back…because each embryo transferred has the potential to implant and develop into a baby.
In the 1980s when IVF was new and success rates were understandably low, it was common to transfer as many as 6 embryos back. Even then, many women did not conceive. Others conceived multiple pregnancies. Still others conceived only one.
Happily, today the technology has been dramatically fine-tuned, resulting in much higher IVF success rates and, because fewer embryos are being transferred, fewer multiple pregnancies.
Some women can’t or don’t want to have a multiple pregnancy and are interested in a program that virtually eliminates the risk of more than a singleton pregnancy. Some of their reasons include possible health risks for the mother or babies, concerns over the higher costs of raising multiples, or the fear of being placed on bed rest and its potential financial impact.
On the other hand, because IVF can be expensive and often not covered by insurance, and because the couples attempting it may have already been trying to conceive for a long time with and without medical assistance and expense, it’s tempting to want to “put all your eggs in one basket”. These couples want to transfer a higher number of embryos back to maximize their chance of conceiving in that one cycle or because they can’t afford to do more cycles. Many couples think of the possibility of twins as a bonus. Two-for-one. Instant family. Dream come true.
But if the financial burden was lessened, and the odds of a live birth from transferring one embryo were nearly comparable to the odds for transferring more, would that make a difference to you? Would you opt for the statistically safer singleton pregnancy vs. the statistically riskier multiple pregnancy? Would you really prefer a multiple pregnancy or would you rather have a succession of singleton pregnancies, the way you originally planned before infertility entered your life?
Deep, emotionally-charged decision. No right answer. Just the right answer for you.
Some good news that may affect your decision is 20-year study of 92,000 patients from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, recently published in the on-line Oxford Journal, Human Reproduction, on January 21, 2015. The Nordic study found that the health of children born from IVF has significantly improved and that the risks of pre-term or severely pre-term births have declined dramatically…and it’s primarily due to transferring just one embryo. In addition, the stillborn and infant death rate for singletons and twins born through IVF has declined. http://bit.ly/1Ejgg1o
For those interested, Long Island IVF has a well-established Elective Single Embryo Transfer Program with success rates comparable to traditional IVF in select patients. If you elect to transfer one embryo in your fresh cycle you get free cryopreservation of your embryos and free storage for six months or until a live birth occurs. As an additional incentive to motivate patients to make safer choices, we offer patients transferring a single embryo during their fresh stimulation cycle up to three frozen embryo transfers, within a year of their retrieval or until a live birth occurs, for the price of one. For more details and information on whether SET may be right for you, visit http://www.longislandivf.com/single_embryo_transfer.cfm or ask your LIIVF physician.
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What did/would you consider when deciding how many embryos to transfer? Is the elective SET program something you did/would consider? Why or why not?
By Tracey Minella
February 7th, 2015 at 9:24 am
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a long process. The transfer is at the end of the line.
When people do IVF, they endure weeks of daily hormone injections and blood work and ultrasounds designed to make the woman produce more than the one egg she would otherwise likely produce. When the time is right, an injection is given that leads to the final maturation of the eggs and the egg retrieval is scheduled for about 34 hours thereafter, so that the eggs will not be ovulated and the cycle lost.
Once the eggs are retrieved, they are placed in a petri dish with the partner’s sperm, and in some cases, Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is performed. With ICSI, a single sperm is isolated and injected into a single egg to increase the odds of fertilization, usually in cases where sperm count or quality is an issue. Then, you wait a day for a fertilization report.
If there is fertilization, the resulting embryos are continually monitored and graded based on how they grow and develop. An agreed upon number of Day 3 embryos (or Day 5 blastocysts) get transferred back to the woman’s uterus via catheter. Each embryo or blastocyst has the potential to develop into a baby, or in rare cases, may even split into twins. Excess embryos are usually cryopreserved (frozen) for future use.
In order to make it to Transfer Day, a couple must survive all the prior phases: cycle suppression, ovarian/follicle stimulation with blood work that corresponds to the number and size of the follicles, a uterine lining that is thick enough for embryo implantation, retrieval of quality eggs, fertilization of eggs, development and growth of quality-grade embryos. Then, the transfer.
Optimists may relax more as each hurdle is cleared. Worry-warts hold their breath ‘til the end. And even then, they beg to lay there for the next two weeks with their hips elevated by pillows or they slam their partners’ driving with every bump on the ride home.
The transfer is a magical moment. It’s not only the end of the treatment cycle, but for many it’s the closest they may ever have been to getting pregnant.
The beauty of IVF comes in the knowledge that you did create embryos…they are real and you can literally see them. If you get pregnant you have breathtakingly beautiful photos of your child from the earliest moments of conception. You know the exact date of conception. You even see the glow of the embryos in the uterus after transfer.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of hope on transfer day. You can bask in the literal moment you may be becoming a mom. Visualize implantation happening. Will it to happen. Allow yourself to believe it because you never know what the effect of positive thinking could be.
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What was your transfer day like? What do you most remember about it?
By David Kreiner MD
February 2nd, 2015 at 4:23 pm
You’ve heard the “Reproductive Bell” toll and may question “Is it real?”…
You see celebrities getting pregnant well into their 40’s and think “Then why can’t I?” So, is your reproductive clock as critical as modern doctors say?
I have come across fertility advice from non-physician practitioners, such as acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists, who encourage their patients to “question the Western dogma” when it comes to age and fertility. They claim the effect of aging and fertility is “exaggerated by the Medical profession and can be overcome with a shift in an individual’s health and lifestyle”.
Unfortunately, this advice comes without any cited research or statistics in support of it. According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, as published on SART.org, a review of the 2012 national statistics, those most recently published of IVF cycles started, the age breakdown for IVF live birth rates are the following:
Age <35= 40.2%
It is true that a woman’s health and physiology gets worse as she gets older. Some of these non- physician practitioners argue that perhaps if this can be improved then the diminishing fertility commonly seen with aging can be reversed. But though improving a woman’s general health may help it is not sufficient in most cases. Fertility rates decrease with increasing age in large part because there is an increase in genetic abnormalities found in gametes (eggs and sperm) as patients (women in particular) age. This is the result of long-term environmental exposure to toxins, in addition to the increased likelihood of genetic damage over time. Miscarriage rates increase with age for the same reason in large part due to the greater likelihood of embryos having chromosomal abnormalities.
Many women as they age also will experience a significant drop in their ovarian activity, referred to as diminished ovarian reserve. This activity can be assessed by your physician with a blood level of Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) and day 3 FSH and estradiol levels. Women with lower AMH levels and elevated FSH in the presence of a normal low estradiol have fewer ovarian follicles, and hence eggs, that will respond to ovarian stimulation. Since the likelihood of these eggs being genetically normal is less, then fertility is reduced and the probability of IVF and other fertility treatments resulting in a live birth becomes significantly lower.
The challenge to any practitioner dealing with an aging patient attempting to conceive is to optimize their patient’s chance to have a healthy baby which optimally would include an integration of multiple modalities. Therefore, ideally a physician specially trained in the fertility process (a Reproductive Endocrinologist), should implement state-of-the-art Western therapies with a complementary holistic approach that aims to shift their patient’s health and fertility. These holistic approaches include diet and lifestyle changes as well as fertility-directed acupuncture and herbal therapy treatments.
Lifestyle changes that may improve fertility primarily include those that reduce stress and improve diet and activity. Stress at work, at home, and with family and friends can create pathology from both Eastern and Western perspectives. Diets that do not support adequate blood production or create Eastern patterns of cold or heat can affect fertility. Excesses or deficiencies of particular foods…such as dairy, fat, or grains… can create imbalances or pathology that may affect fertility or result in obesity or malnutrition which also impact reproduction.
Inactivity may impair fertility. Therefore some level of exercise, combined with an improved diet directed at improving fertility, stress reduction techniques, acupuncture, and supplements (which may include Chinese Herbs as well as Western supplements) will optimize your chances of successfully building your family.
The first step is to seek help from a reproductive endocrinologist skilled in state-of-the-art fertility therapies who can coordinate a program which is ideal for you. But if you are hearing the “Reproductive Bell” tolling, it is important to take that first step soon, because, while these many complementary approaches can optimize your fertility, they may not be enough to overcome the reality of the negative effect of advanced age in fertility.
Long Island IVF offers complementary holistic approaches to achieving pregnancy (See our Mind-Body Program http://www.longislandivf.com/mind_body.cfm ) as well as a well-respected Donor Egg Program http://www.longislandivf.com/donor_programs.cfm with no wait for pre-screened, multi-ethnic donor eggs, or Donor Embryos.
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Has the increased visibility of older celebrity moms getting pregnant made you think you have more time? Have you considered combining Western and Eastern medicine in your family-building treatment?
By Tracey Minella
January 26th, 2015 at 3:58 pm
So, you went through all the blood work, sonograms, and injections for your IVF cycle and you wake up on the morning of your retrieval…if you even got any sleep the night before… ready for the big day.
Only problem is that blinding white glare streaming into the room.
“What the #@*%!” A snow storm hit overnight. Three feet down already and still falling fast. It’s gonna take all morning to dig out the car. Hey, where is the car?
Then your blood runs cold as you remember the biggest rule of all: “Don’t be late for your retrieval!”
Timing of the HcG shot and the subsequent retrieval is critical, so that the eggs are retrieved before they are ovulated. Then the next worry hits: “Even if I get there, will my doctors make it in?”
Fortunately, today’s meteorologists generally predict major storms enough in advance for patients and doctors to put contingency plans into place. Retrieval and transfer patients may be given special instructions and suggestions when a blizzard is expected.
If you anticipate a winter retrieval, in addition to allowing lots of extra time and filling the gas tank up, consider these 5 IVF Retrieval Blizzard Preparedness Tips:
- If there’s talk of snow, line up driveway plowing or shoveling extra early, or park the car down near the end of the driveway (but not in the street) so there’ll be less to shovel to get out. (Note: Ladies with swollen ovaries full of follicles should not shovel.)
- Call your town offices the day before, explain your medical situation, and beg them to have your road plowed early and often, if possible.
- If you don’t have one, line up borrowing an SUV or have a friend with an SUV drive you to the retrieval.
- Know the names of hotels near your clinic or hospital and consider staying in a hotel the night before retrieval if you live far away.
- Last resort: Call your local police department or fire department for help. Explain the situation and your need to get to the hospital or clinic immediately.
If despite the best planning, you’re running late on retrieval day, call your doctor’s office or service and tell them what’s going on and follow whatever instructions they give you.
There’s usually a small time window built into the schedule to accommodate for such an emergency, so don’t panic until you talk to them.
Because a retrieval can’t be postponed once the HcG shot has been given…even for a blizzard of potentially historic proportions… arrangements are made for Long Island IVF’s team of doctors, nurses and embryologists to stay local and to have reliable transportation so you can rest assured they will be there for your big day.
Remain positive and calm. And when it’s all over, you’ll have an interesting story to tell or excerpt to write in your fertility journal.
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Did you ever have a retrieval or transfer in a blizzard? How did it go and do you have any other tips to add?
Credit: Peter Griffin/http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=4893&picture=snowed-in&large=1
By David Kreiner MD
January 24th, 2015 at 8:13 am
Many husbands complain that they feel left out of the whole IVF process as all the attention and care is apparently directed towards the woman. If anything they may feel that at best they can show up for the retrieval at which time they are expected to donate their sperm on demand. If you should fail at this then all the money, time, hope and efforts were wasted all because you choked when you could not even perform this one “simple” step.
I have not witnessed the terror and horrors of war but I have seen the devastation resulting from an IVF cycle failed as a result of a husband’s inability to collect a specimen. Relationships often do not survive in the wake of such a disappointment. Talk about performing under pressure, there is more at stake in the collection room than pitching in the World Series.
Husbands and male partners view IVF from a different perspective than their wives. They are not the ones being injected with hormones; commuting to the physician’s office frequently over a two week span for blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds and undergoing a transvaginal needle aspiration procedure. At least women are involved in the entire process, speak with and see the IVF staff regularly and understand what they are doing and are deeply invested emotionally and physically in this experience. So what is a husband to do?
Those couples that appear to deal best with the stress of IVF are ones that do it together.
Many husbands learn to give their wives the injections. It helps involve them in the efforts and give them some degree of control over the process. They can relate better to what their wives are doing and take pride that they are contributing towards the common goal of achieving the baby.
When possible, husbands should accompany their wives to the doctor visits. They can interact with the staff, get questions answered and obtain a better understanding of what is going on. This not only makes women feel like their husbands are supportive but is helpful in getting accurate information and directions. Both of these things are so important that in a husband’s absence I would recommend that a surrogate such as a friend, sister, or mother be there if he cannot be. Support from him and others help diminish the level of stress and especially if it comes from the husband helps to solidify their relationship.
Husbands should accompany their wives to the embryo transfer. This can be a highly emotional procedure. Your embryo/s is being placed in the womb and at least in that moment many women feel as if they are pregnant. Life may be starting here and it is wonderful for a husband to share this moment with his wife. Perhaps he may keep the Petri dish as a keepsake as the “baby’s first crib”. It is an experience a couple is not likely to forget as their first time together as a family.
With regards to the pressure of performing to provide the specimen at the time of the retrieval, I would recommend that a husband freeze a specimen collected on a previous day when he does not have the intense pressure of having to produce at that moment or else. Having the insurance of a back-up frozen specimen takes much of the pressure off at the time of retrieval making it that much easier to produce a fresh specimen. There are strategies that can be planned for special circumstances including arranging for assistance from your wife and using collection condoms so that the specimen can be collected during intercourse. Depending on the program these alternatives may be available.
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If you did IVF, was your partner involved? How did it go? Any funny or sweet stories to share?
If your partner wasn’t involved, are you happy about that decision, and if so, why was it the right decision for you?
January 20th, 2015 at 2:28 pm
It is with humble yet excited hearts that we announce that Long Island IVF was voted the Best In Vitro Fertility Practice in the Best Of Long Island 2015 contest. Unlike prior years, for the 10th anniversary of the BOLI contest, there could only be one winner per category with no runners-up.
We just received word that we won. Thanks to all of you!
The doctors, nurses, embryologists, and the rest of the Long Island IVF staff are so proud of this honor and so thankful to each and every one of you who took the time to cast a vote in our favor. From the moms juggling LIIVF toddlers… to the dads coaching LIIVF teens…to the parents sending LIIVF adults off to college or down the aisles… to the LIIVF patients still on their journeys to parenthood who are confident in the care they’re receiving…we thank you all.
We love what we get to do every day…build families. And that’s all the thanks we really need. But your endorsement of us to your friends, families, and the public (by voting for us) means so much and will enable us to help even more infertile couples fulfill their dreams of building a family.
As we usher in 2015…our 27th year…we will continue to offer our unique blend of cutting-edge medical technologies and holistic, personal support… wrapped in the comfort of a private, non-hospital setting.
Thanks again. Happy New Year to all.
By Tracey Minella
January 16th, 2015 at 10:04 am
When you’re struggling to conceive, it can be frustrating to hear the ever-present nagging of your friends and family who’ve become new parents. “You have to see the baby!” It’s like being trapped in a Seinfeld episode. Except no one’s laughing.
But “You have to see the baby” can be a good thing, too. Whether you’ve completed your journey to the crib or are still on the way, Long Island IVF has given this phrase new meaning.
Anyone who’s needed medical intervention to build their family knows that while there are ups and downs along the way, the one thing to never lose is hope. Hope sees you through the rough times.
So, we’ve created something wonderful at Long Island IVF: “YouHaveToSeeTheBaby.com” Take a peek here http://bit.ly/16OZQD7 . Potential new patients who would like information about Long Island IVF are encouraged to complete the blue contact form on the YouHaveToSeeTheBaby.com page for more information.
The page is a beautiful testimonial of hope, a snapshot of lives in progress, a mosaic of stories of what Long Island IVF’s miracle babies are doing today, up to a quarter century later. Some are in college or getting married. Others are performing at Carnegie Hall and having Sweet Sixteens. Many are enjoying first soccer games and dance recitals. And tons are celebrating milestones like walking, talking, and sleeping through the night.
YouHaveToSeeTheBaby is by you and for you.
We invite our patients to submit your own Long Island IVF children for inclusion. The instructions for submitting are attached at the bottom of this post, so read through to the end. And if you are still on your journey to parenthood, we hope you will visit YHTSTB and be inspired by the sight of so many lives created by LIIVF. And that your hope is renewed by the vision of your own future addition.
Here are the instructions:
YouHaveToSeeTheBaby.com Easy Upload Instructions:
If you’d like to submit your child(ren) for inclusion in our YouHaveToSeeTheBaby.com photo and profile montage, easy submission instructions are below.
By submitting your child(ren)’s names, photos, and stories you expressly consent to Long Island IVF and its agents using, displaying, and sharing same on its website and social media platforms without providing compensation of any kind. You realize that submitting these materials for inclusion on our website and social media may result in your child(ren) being recognized as being created through the use of assisted reproductive technologies with the assistance of Long Island IVF and you indemnify Long Island IVF and its agents from any and all claims whatsoever with respect thereto. Submitted content may be edited at the discretion of Long Island IVF, for space or other considerations. Submission of content does not guarantee placement or use on the website or elsewhere. Photos may be removed at any time by Long Island IVF for any reason.
Photos should be non-professional and not subject to copyright (or must be accompanied by a written release by the photographer for this intended use). We are not able to give photo credit to photographers. Photos may only include the featured Long Island IVF child(ren) and should be clear and high definition jpeg photos.
- To submit your child(ren) for consideration, please provide the following by email or regular mail to firstname.lastname@example.org :
- One clear high definition photo of your child(ren) in jpeg format (or if by mail then not to exceed 5×7 size)
- Your Child(ren)’s name(s):
- A Short paragraph on your experience with LIIVF (subject to editing)
- A Short statement about a recent milestone of your child(ren) (subject to editing)
- Your Full Name(s)
- Your Signature (or if by email, you must reply to this email consenting to it’s terms)
- Your contact info (phone number or email or preferably both)
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Have you uploaded your story yet?
By Tracey A. Minella
January 11th, 2015 at 7:31 am
Chances are, if you are struggling with infertility, one of the biggest obstacles is the financial burden of the fertility treatments. A New Year often causes infertile couples without the benefit of infertility treatment insurance to revisit their family-building plans and reassess their options.
Some forgo the usual things like fine-dining, vacations, houses, new cars, and other luxuries of a typical life, putting the savings into their treatment. Many work over-time or take second jobs. Others max out credit cards, dip into retirement funds, or borrow from family. And some raise treatment money through on-line fundraising campaigns.
What if there was an easier way…a free way…to finance IVF (or fund an adoption)? You’d consider it, right?
Well, there is a grant opportunity you should consider pursuing that is offering grants of up to $10,000 to use toward your family-building goals. That’s money you don’t have to pay back. Enough to pay for all or a substantial portion of an IVF cycle or an adoption. But you need to act quickly because there is a February 1 deadline for the Spring Grant Cycle.
You may remember that Long Island IVF co-sponsored an exciting event last year…Dancing For the Family… with the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation. Not only did Long Island IVF donate a free IVF cycle as a door prize, but the event raised money that enables the Cade Foundation to fund these family-building grants. All you need to do now is apply.
Don’t like forms? Think you’ll never be chosen? Well, you’re in good company. Do you realize that so many people think like that, or are just beaten down by the stress of infertility, that there are often more funds than applicants for grants like these?! That’s right…grant money is often sitting there waiting for applicants to apply for it! And that’s a shame.
To apply, go here: http://www.cadefoundation.org/?page_id=10
And keep your eyes open for upcoming news of this year’s Long Island IVF and Cade Foundation new and exciting event.
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Are you going to apply? If not, why not?