There are a number of standard steps in an IVF cycle: taking fertility drugs; monitoring via blood work and ultrasound; egg retrieval; fertilization; and embryo transfer. Your IVF cycle may also include cryopreservation (freezing your embryos) for a frozen embryo transfer or to preserve excess embryos. There are a number of situations where your frozen embryos may be shipped to another clinic:
- You’ve created and frozen embryos for an IVF cycle in another country
- You’ve created and frozen embryos for a surrogate pregnancy in another country
- You’ve had a failed IVF cycle and have frozen embryos you’d like to use at another fertility clinic
- The clinic where you are storing your frozen embryos has limited storage space
- The fertility clinic where you are storing your frozen embryos is merging with another practice or closing
- The clinic has restrictions on how long they will store your frozen embryos
If you need to ship your embryos within or outside the country you live in, the responsibility often falls on the patient, not the fertility clinic, to find a shipper and make the arrangements.
An experienced cryogenic shipping provider will handle everything from the paperwork to coordinating the shipping and receiving dates with both IVF clinics as well as billing. If you are shipping from one country to another, they will advise you regarding the forms necessary for clearing customs. (In instances where you need to ship frozen eggs or sperm, a cryogenic shipping company can facilitate this as well.)
Your embryos should be shipped in a liquid nitrogen container (dry vapor) that maintains a constant temperature of -150 degrees Celsius or below for the duration of the shipping process. The container should arrive at the fertility clinic properly labeled, so that the fertility clinic simply loads the embryos, seals up the shipping carton and calls for the courier pickup.
You’ll want to make sure that the “cryoshipper” has worked with IVF clinics in the past, uses a 24/7 monitoring system, is customer-service focused and has a history of positive results.