The Retrievals


Dozens of women seeking to become mothers came to a fertility clinic at Yale. A (five-part) narrative series about the shocking events that unfolded there. From Serial Productions and The New York Times.

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Recent Reviews
  • gigi896
    I got to episode 4/5- I’ve been listening consistently throughout the day. Just got to episode 4/5 and I still don’t understand the point of this podcast? Narrator promised we will learn about Donna’s love but she never mentions any real details.
  • immc2u
    Blame game
    It bothered me that her x-husband was being blamed for her actions. There is always two sides to a story. We never heard his side. It is written and produced by women and definitely showed gender bias.
  • saitoe
    A lesson in privilege, toxic empathy, and “hysteria”
    I almost had to fast forward through the parts of the first episode where the victims described the pain they suffered during their retrievals. It was so visceral and awful but so important to what they had experienced. This podcast really reminded me of the book and movie “Women Talking”. Both were infuriating to no end and did not have any real resolution. As a woman, I will never understand the level of tribalism that forms upon motherhood. Does that trump all other suffering? Did Donna care about the motherhood of her victims? It sure doesn’t seem like it. Donna not facing any consequences due to the judge empathizing so fiercely with her was obscene. I cannot fathom how she faced no consequences when there are POC in prison for 20+ years for significantly lesser drug related charges. I was also truly shocked at the level of empathy some of the victims had for someone who inflicted so much pain with no remorse. The pass for behaviors that white mothers get in the USA will just continue to disturb me I guess. The suffering of women will continue being a default and those that inflict pain upon them will rarely if ever be held accountable. Excellent podcast but definitely take breaks listening if you need to since it is just a horrific subject matter.
  • Amelanchior
    Background music
    The background music is overpowering. It is very distracting to an otherwise well produced series.
  • Sarah.DG
    Compassionate reporting
    This story is horrific but somehow not at all shocking. It’s well reported and in a very compassionate way. I appreciate this podcast bringing the story to a wider community.
  • 3dog2kids
    Excellent podcast. Not repetitive and very well done
  • SueBean2
    Where is episode 6?
    This is an emotional and difficult topic so the episodes should come out every Thursday as originally stated in the podcast. Episode five dropped over a month ago, where is episode 6? There should be such a big lag..
  • charlieknits
    Sadly the Judge didn’t do her job! If Donna was doing this, how many more are? How about the patient going through open heart surgery?Donna is incredibly selfish and perhaps she’s not the best example for her children after all. I’m left wondering how would the judge view this if Donna or a nurse just like her chose to steal the surgery meds for her child undergoing a medical procedure? We’ve entered a dangerous path in this country….Where people who obey the laws are punished while the criminals run free!!!!!!!
  • Jessica_Wild
    Couldn’t stop listening. Such a tragic, complicated story.
  • bismark61
    Women and pain
    Listening to this I’m reminded of my own pain and being dismissed and given a prescription of Valium! Although my pain was a couple of feature burst in my spine! I had a procedure kypoplasty it was going to “make me as good as new” the doctor told me! But I ended up having to quit my job of 18 years that I loved because the pain was unbearable! I could not find a doctor that would stop giving me anxiety meds and not figure out why I was still in extreme pain in my back! I gave up and live with it daily taking supplements! But I just had to share my story it doesn’t compare to these women I know but it’s my story thanks 🥲🥲🥲 Tara
  • msmommypants
    Routine practice to dismiss women
    Great podcast. Thanks to the women willing to share about their nightmare As a nurse, I often see this dismissal of women’s complaints, and also that of African American patients. The fact that Yale got away with evading responsibility here, shows how little interest there is in changing things. What to charge someone who ignores pain of women during surgery without anesthesia? How about what it is…assault and battery.
  • Average Middle Age White Lady
    In every way.
  • NBPM Eddie
    Too long
    Lost interest after the first few episodes. The story (while horrific) was unnecessarily long and drawn out… repetitive.
  • catsurgeon
    Touchy Feely treatment of nurse who tortures patients
    I just finished episode 2 and I’m enraged by the lenient treatment this podcast gives to this nurse who tortured hundreds of women. Addiction is no excuse for causing harm to others. I would equate this with an addict who pulls a gun on a convenience store clerk to get money for drugs. The difference is she hurt so many more people! People she was supposed to be helping. So her actions were so much worse.
  • Ana Karin
    Justice was not served
    Beautifully told. These victims are inspiring women who went though so much due to infertility, and also had to suffer additional physical, and emotional pain, all because of an addict. Unfortunately, justice wasn’t served (IMO). I’m sure if the offending nurse would’ve been Black or of color she would’ve served real jail time, and probably had her children taken away. Great podcast! Unfortunate outcome.
  • Deniselistens
    I listened to all episodes in one sitting and still cannot imagine the pain- both physical and non-physical- these women went though. Well done.
  • insook kim
    Great documentary
    Clear, powerful and interesting. Well done!
  • fellow potty mouth
    So much pain, so much bravery
    Words truly fail me. Heartbreaking story, beautifully told. Not sure justice was done, but glad the story is out
  • AAdelsfeld
    Excellent reporting
    Bravo to all who created this.
  • Valerie Rodriquez
    Having gone through 12 years of repeated infections and bleeding and being told I was just going to have to live with it or take this drug or that drug or that it was all in my head to finally having a hysterectomy which when biopsied found a Dalcon Shield IUD about to burst through the roof of my uterus!!! I can relate to being discounted, ignored, told it’s not that painful and in essence to shut up. I was one of the lucky survivors of this product that was KNOWN to be faulty. Many women died!! If my memory serves me well from 1984, I believe that after it was removed from the market in the US it was sold to 3rd world countries!!! It never ends.
  • Bybeeblue
    Thank you for lessening my burden.
    I’m late to the party as I just listened to The Retrievals. It was so well done I was left balling my eyes out & rocking. While I wasn’t at the Yale Clinic, the same thing happened to me in 90s at the fertility clinic at Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had an egg retrieval there for ICSI which is a step above IVF. Let me preference what I’m about to say by saying I’ve had 9 surgeries so I know how hospitals work. I also have a high pain tolerance & I always rebounded quickly. Yet knowing all that I still allowed these people to gaslight me over & over again bc I believed they were all that stood between me & having a baby. I believed I could trust them. I believed that a doctor & a nurse were sworn to “do no harm.” I believed they had my best interests in mind. Turns out your story is my story verbatim except in my case I don’t know why I wasn’t given ANY medication. When we arrived and they were preparing me for the retrieval the nurse said we were about to go & I asked her for the pain meds. She looked at me like I was insane or like it was an inappropriate comment, and said, “you don’t need them.” I said, “yes I do.” She said it wouldn’t hurt & that most women didn’t need medication. I told her I needed them again and she slapped a CD player on me and said I’d be fine. All I could hear on the CD player was static and she refused to help me find me find a station. She ignored me throughout the procedure. She refused to make eye contact with me. While the retrieval was happening I begged the doctor to stop or give me medication and he ignored me too & said all the same things these women say they were told. I was criticized for many things before, during & after the retrieval but moving on the operating table as he jabbed me over & over made them the most angry. I’m 60 now & I still have nightmares & flashbacks from this procedure, from having my body internally ripped apart by a stainless steal tube & bc no one listened to me as I screamed out in pain. I screamed for them to stop and the doctor would say things like, ‘don’t you want a baby?’. The nurse who refused to give me ANY pain medication, ended up calling me a wimp. My husband & I went back to specifically talk to the doctor about my pain, nightmares & the nurse’s behavior. I was treated exactly the same as these victims. The doctor continued the gaslighting. I never thought of the nurses stealing the medication. I never knew we suffered physically & long-term emotionally so the nurses could feed their addiction or make a profit. In the end we paid $15,000 so I could be tortured & gaslighted. We’d already been through many years of infertility treatments. I couldn’t make myself try again after this horrifying incident. Like I said, this happened to me in the fertility clinc at Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sadly, to my knowledge, they were never held accountable. After hearing your story I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who suffered there. And after your story I know it wasn’t me, it wasn’t me. That’s gives me some peace of mind. It wasn’t me. Thank you! You’re a brilliant story teller.
  • Annabelle81206
    This is amazing coverage. I’m only 22, and experienced neglect/dismissa of painl from doctors countless times (in times of iud insertion, of course, and even appendicitis). It is such an ignored problem in the medical industry. The victims are so vulnerable. They deserve more justice than was served. It’s crazy. “Why does she get to be a mom when she decided that that’s something she could withhold from others” Haven’t finished yet to be fair but had to review asap
  • Mcasci
    Good in a pinch
    Quick podcast. Pretty sad that these woman were dismissed from beginning to end- and the perpetrator got weekends in jail 😂 A true American story.
  • Littlerockyg
    Infuriating and affirming
    many women will feel validated by this experience and having their pain dismissed. It’s so well told … the way they describe the systemic pain points for women. It’s a miscarriage of Justice in every way.
  • Krobyidaho
    Same old grift
    As soon as the whole thing was framed as racism, I quit listening. So tired of that narrative.
  • Mandy3756
    Incredibly important podcast
    This is something I wish everyone would listen to understand the way women’s voices are still consistently ignored. The way we view women’s pain. I hope there’s a follow-up season that discussed women’s pain. This felt so emotional to me and I’ve never been on an IVF journey. But it doesn’t matter. This is about humanity and how we care for one another. Incredible work on this show. Bravo ladies and everyone involved!
  • Tuffy 413
    Superior insightful podcast.
    As a physician who’s served on a hospital medical executive committee, I can appreciate the dilemma that this nurse caused for Yale med center, the physicians and nurses she worked with, and the patients themselves. By violating her nursing oath, something that her addicted brain caused her to do, she harmed the patients she was sworn to help. Additionally, because she was the keeper, dispenser and purloiner of fentanyl, her actions were concealed for too long. It’s troubling that the patients’ complaints went unheeded, but as the critical link between the surgeons and the patients, she could dismiss their complaints and hide them from the normal hospital review committees. This is an excellent podcast in line with previous NYT’s reports. I appreciate the fact that its emphasized the harm done to the patients by the duplicitous actions of this nurse. I can’t recommend it enough. (The only deficit is that the nurse wouldn’t cooperate for an interview with the reporter.)
  • Hyacinth S
    Brings up a major problem in the system.
    I wasn’t prepared for the visceral feeling this podcast brought out in me. As a 64 year old women, I’ve experienced several situations when my pain was dismissed by providers and staff. And as a women I’ve come to accept the lack of compassion in the healthcare field. My first encounter was 3 vaginal deliveries of my children where they listened to my husband’s request that my children be born w/o any anesthesia and not my preference for an epidural . The second was an ER visit for severe calcification of my shoulder with excruciating nerve pain and I was looked at like a drug seeker until I demanded an MRI which proved my diagnosis. Third was a hysteroscopy for postmenopausal bleeding where a 14 inch tube was inserted into my vagina and the uterus was biopsied. As I screamed out in dire pain, The staff and Dr. seemed unfazed and stated I shouldn’t need any anesthesia!
  • happy delivery
    The pain
    The pain these women went through prior to the procedure with having to go through this emotional journey! and then to have to go through more pain due to someone else during the procedure !! broke my heart hearing them speak about this! Living nightmare I can’t imagine their pain all around !
  • Emilygatx
    Riveting story
    It is both appalling what these women experienced (the pain & their experiences dismissed) & unsurprising (another example of the ripple effects of the patriarchy). Also, thank you for contextualizing & helping me process my own past experiences where I felt I “deserved” that pain or that it was just something I had to accept & deal with.
  • b4butnolonget
    A short story crammed into a long novel
    This is just so trite and so poorly done. The story is just not worthy of a lengthy treatment.
  • Nothing125
    Not enough
    I don’t understand why this reporter left so many vital lines of questioning un-investigated. The amount of drugs diverted here was huge and it wasn’t just the fentanyl. It was also a lot of fentanyl. How could this go on for so long- and yes obviously it was happening before June 2020 why not do more to investigate this? How could the loose caps go un-noticed for so long? Who were these doctors in the room that let their patients writhe on the table. Did they really always ask women if they wanted to stop? How can women be protected from these doctors if the reporter won’t name them? Also what is with the pain that came up so long after the procedures? Why were these women at the emergency room the next day if it was just the fentanyl that was tampered with since fentanyl isn’t a long lasting drug?
  • rmbodenheimer
    Astounding, infuriating series
    Incredible reporting by Susan Burton and her team. This is such an important podcast for documenting the way the medical system ignores women’s pain and misdiagnoses and gaslights us. Thank you for doing this podcast.
  • My Nickname for podcasts
    I listened to this almost completely straight through. I wonder how many other Donnas are out there. Glad these incredible women could have their story heard widely. Should be required listening for all medical professionals and administrators.
  • erica3443
    Interesting story!
    I genuinely enjoyed listening to this and binged all the episodes in one sitting lol. I think it was somewhat drawn out but maybe that’s just my serious lack of an attention span lol. This was such a great story to learn about. The most vivid parts are the women’s retelling how the procedure felt for them physically without any pain relief. OUCH. There are no words!!! It’s absolutely dreadful how much pain is caused while being poked and prodded etc in those areas. I can not fully imagine the shock and the trauma following an already traumatic experience being amplified by zero pain relief during it. But this helped me to understand how truly unfortunate and heartbreaking and painfulllll it was to be a patient here at this time. I was really surprised and very happy with the empathy and compassion that was shown towards the nurse. I’m so glad she wasn’t just painted as a monster and a fiend who ruined lives carelessly because her story is also tragic. I really feel that brought this all together perfectly. Good job on this one, let’s get some more like this with insane unheard of stories please!
  • curliebeach
    i’ve been haunted by a story i saw on the Phil Donahue show back in the 80s about a woman whose anesthesia didn’t work and she vividly described the agony of experiencing her surgery. She could feel and hear what was happening, but could not communicate to the doctors. Eventually she went into shock and they realized something was wrong. The fact that anything similar could happen in the 2020s, but the women COULD SPEAK, and were IGNORED is the worst nightmare come to life i’ve ever heard since. extremely well produced, these stories deserve to be heard.
  • Dalidog
    Such an infuriating and disturbing subject matter but so glad someone gave these women and this nightmare a voice. Best podcast I’ve heard in a long time. Thank you!
  • BAEH008
    Highly recommend any woman to listen
    Great reporting
  • AmirsWingman
    This is a so-so podcast that could have been really intriguing but feel flat.
  • TheSleepyJaneShow
    My insides actually hurt while listening to this. This is terrifying and heartbreaking. Great podcast.
  • Why? Just...why?
    Liberal sentence
    Liberal judge giving a liberal sentence. Had nothing to do with race
  • mwd.z
    I believe Donna Monticone deserved a harsher less sympathetic sentence but this story perfectly decoys the privilege a certain type of people receive in this country.
  • Kaceypahukoa
    The podcast take on this to then victimize the nurse who caused so much harm is absolutely insane and disgusting. You can clearly tell that this is a NY Times article to downplay the actual victims. It’s actually infuriating. I don’t care why you decided to take drugs whatever actions you did on drugs are actions you are responsible for. No one held you down and forced a needle in your arm. I have family of drug addicts and drug dealers and you take responsibility for your actions. This podcast is so clearly bias. I agree with the other review that said it is subpar in their title.
  • Wrenbows
    Women Who Can’t See Past Their Entitlement
    I started out deeply empathetic with these women and their painful experiences. That said, by the end (after enduring the conversations with the two women the journalist chose to center) I lost my empathy for these two women in particular, and on a broader note found myself wondering if IVF should even be available. These people say they want to be mothers, yet they clearly lack any true mothering instinct. They came across as wanting nothing more than little genetic copies of themselves, at any expense. Indeed, with the exception of the neurologist who studies addiction and the criminal defense lawyer, none of them expressed the slightest insight into the myriad and lifelong trauma Donna’s children would have endured had it not been for the thoughtful and carefully considered decision rendered by this judge. Instead, the self-absorbed vindictiveness of these women blinded them to the only just resolution, which thankfully the judge reached. Inarguably, incarceration does not work in cases of addiction. It simply destroys more lives. How dare these women make the callous and ignorant claim (unchallenged by the journalist) that the judge erred by fashioning a fair sentence that may save Donna’s life, and spare three innocent children the lifelong rupture and trauma these privileged women demanded. In sum, the journalist’s facile inquiries (You think it’s because she’s white? You think it’s because they are mothers?) and her failure to challenge these two women about the true nature of addiction and the unremitting structural struggles mothers of any color without privilege experience in this society left me infuriated rather than empathetic.
  • Allix W.
    Believe Women
    This podcast is gut wrenching, but all too familiar. I found myself alternating between crying from being so overwhelmed, feeling intensely emotional because I could relate so deeply (both IUD insertions and one egg freezing cycle leveled me physically in ways I was wholly unprepared for by our healthcare system - I was a D1 rower and consider myself to have a very high pain threshold), and just sitting slack-jawed from how this chorus of women was ignored. A must listen. Believe women. Highly, highly recommend.
  • Iher4567
    Really great exploration of the horrific situation these women went through. Relatable in many ways and incredibly thought provoking.
  • PocketFairy
    Another riveting podcast by Serial
    I listened to them all in a day and it hits so hard. The medical community keeps coming at this like it’s a small mistake but only a podcast could look at these women like they were people. People who were violated in a place they were suppose to feel the most safe only to get a “oh guess you weren’t lying about going through surgery with no pain medication. Whoops sowwwwwiiieee. You’re fine though, why are you still upset?” If you want to listen to a deep dive into what it’s like to own a vagina in front of a doctor these days then listen to this podcast. Women aren’t allowed to be in pain, they are told they are just being hysterical and it’s really annoying of them. They aren’t allowed justice because they were tortured for a good reason. And they aren’t allowed justice because “what does it matter? You got a baby anyway.”
  • SarahColetti
    Very good
    Very very good. I feel heard and validated as a woman who has had many experiences of the brush off of extreme pain. I only wish the podcaster had focused an additional episode on the DEA and their crack down of what can be prescribed if it’s a street drug/narcotic (fentanyl, oxy, etc) and what can’t, the pharm companies and the cost of pain meds, and how pain meds are coded by for which procedures and who is really overseeing this. Other than that, incredibly well done.
  • Special K Bird
    You Must Listen
    This is a stunning, thorough, relevant, enraging, and devastating masterpiece of journalistic investigating and reporting. This podcast remains as a permanent voice for women who were silenced, ignored, and shamed. This is the best of the best; thank you to the creators and all of the women who suffer and shouldn’t have had to. Heartbreak and courage, over and over again.
  • Starshine2
    After listening to the trailer and first three episodes, a few things made it unappealing to continue. While the story itself is interesting, the execution is quite subpar. The narrator should only be filling in the storyline and not speaking the sections of the judge, attorneys, and Donna. A truly great podcast has different voices for each person. As is, the voices and thoughts and decisions run together. Additionally, the leftist bias of NY Times comes fully into play. Sad but true. By episode 3, the race card is used— undeniably quintessential NYT reporting. Not everything is about race! Grow up.
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