The Retrievals Education & Advocacy, Investigative

Hosted By: Susan Burton
Produced By: New York Times & Serial

The Retrievals is a five-part narrative series reported by Susan Burton. The podcast tells the story of a shocking event that unfolded at the Yale Fertility Center in 2020: a nurse secretly replaced vials of fentanyl, an opioid used to reduce pain during egg retrievals, with saline solution. This meant that the women felt the procedure, some describing excruciating agony, while the clinic downplayed or ignored them.

The Retrievals Podcast Host:

Susan Burton is the host, writer, reporter, and co-producer of The Retrievals, a podcast series from Serial Productions and the New York Times. She is the author of the memoir Empty. For years she has worked at This American Life, where the episodes she’s produced include Secrets, Ten Sessions, Five Women, The Thing I’m Getting Over, and Tell Me I’m Fat. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Slate, The New Yorker, and others, and she is a former editor of Harper’s. Her radio documentaries have won numerous awards, including an Overseas Press Club citation, and she received a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to do stories about teenagers. The film Unaccompanied Minors, which was directed by Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig, is based on one of her personal essays. Susan graduated from Yale in 1995. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two sons (one of whom she wrote about in Labor Day: True Birth Stories by America’s Best Women Writers).

Praise from Listeners*:

  • Voice for the Victims: The podcast gives a voice to the women who were harmed at the Yale Fertility Center. It allows them to tell their stories in their own words and to share the pain and trauma that they experienced.
  • Emotional Complexity: The Retrievals portrays the complex emotions of the women who were harmed. It shows how they felt betrayed, angry, and scared, but also how they found strength and resilience in the aftermath of what happened to them.
  • Professional Perspective: The Retrievals explores the perspective of the nurse who committed the crime. It helps listeners to understand her motivations and the factors that contributed to her actions.
  • Challenging the System: The podcast raises important questions about the medical system and how it treats women. It shows how the system can fail women and how their pain and concerns can be ignored or dismissed.

Criticisms from Listeners*:

  • Focus: Some listeners felt that the podcast gave too much attention to the nurse’s motivations and backstory, and that this attention took away from the stories of the women who were harmed.
  • Addressing Broader Systemic Issues: Some listeners felt that the podcast did not do enough to explore the systemic issues that contributed to the events at the Yale Fertility Center, such as sexism and the dismissal of women’s pain.

* The True Crime Connection teams aims to keep this as an unbiased search database. In order to do this, we curate what people love the most and the least about a podcast by analysing ApplePodcast reviews.

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Both show and individual episode descriptions for listings on the TCC website have been submitted directly from the podcast featured or found online. We do our best to make sure all information is accurate, however; if there are any corrections to be made, please let us know here.