Watch the webinar video above to learn about methods of cryo shipping for IVF samples. If you are considering IVF treatment at a fertility clinic abroad, for example in Europe or Canada, you may be in a situation where you will need to have your genetic material (eggs, sperm or embryo) safely transported from your local clinic to your destination clinic. Traditional courier service will not be of use here. You would need reliable cryo shipping services which will ensure safe delivery and no X-ray checks at airports.
Big thank you for all the participants who took part in our sixth free webinar on Tuesday 30th January 2018. Here’s the complete transcript of the questions and answers that came up during the webinar.
The demand for worldwide fertility cryo-transportation is growing steadily each year. With individual fertility laws differing from country to country and travel becoming more accessible, individuals are afforded more freedom when it comes to deciding where to go for treatment. Whilst the widening choice is a great benefit for patients, just how safe is cryo-shipping and what exactly is the process?
In this webinar, Mr Peter Hura, head of the logistics department at First Egg Bank, the biggest European centre of certified oocyte (egg) and sperm samples, explains the logistics, equipment and documentation required for the successful transportation of gametes (eggs and sperm) and embryos.
Cryo-shipping is a complex solution for IVF but is an achievable service which is becoming more readily used. With laws pertaining to fertility treatments varying worldwide, many clients find themselves seeking IVF in a country which supports their specific needs, for instance, intended parents who ship oocytes or embryos for use in overseas surrogacy programs.
Two main shipping methods are used for IVF cryo-transportation; road and air.
Transportation by road can be undertaken if the distance is at or below 1,500km. When cryo-shipping by road, the oocytes or embryos are transported in a specialised container that is completely filled with liquid nitrogen; this ensures an absolute, stable temperature of -196 degrees centigrade. Mr Hura advises that even just a slight increase in temperature can pose a risk to the delicate cell matter. Whilst road shipments are simpler in terms of scheduling, logistics and safety, air transportation is also a viable option.
The biggest concerns, when undergoing an air shipment, are exposure to radiation and the worry of the container being opened.
First Egg Bank, therefore, ensures that every consignment has a dedicated escort in charge of the sample/s right from the point of collection, all the way through to delivery. Supervisors are fully trained to assess the transport conditions and guarantee the containers are not handled by a third party. Cell shipments must never be x-rayed as the radiation from this procedure may result in the degeneration of gametes and embryos, which could provoke DNA changes and genetic mutations. The escorts are on hand to protect and safeguard the oocytes and embryos from such situations occurring and any subsequent potential damage.
Air shipments are also more complex due to the fact that it is impossible to store the gametes in liquid nitrogen, for the journey.
Mr Hura explains how a specialised container is therefore used for any cryo-transportation shipments by air. The container complies with all legal and safety requirements by allowing the liquid nitrogen to be fully absorbed into a porous material, for the duration of the transportation. Each specialised container has a temperature marker and always flies directly onboard, with the escort, as hand luggage. It’s interesting to note that for the purposes of shipping, samples of IVF do not have any commercial value as they are used for treatment. Each type of gamete and/or embryo also has its own identification code.
Alongside IVF clinics, agencies and IVF laboratories, many private and individual patients also use cryo-transportation services; often people who do not have the necessary contacts or legal expertise in organising this type of shipment. First Egg Bank makes all arrangements and liaise directly with clinic representatives and embryologists, air security teams and customs clearance. It is their role to provide and present all documentation and permits at both the points of export and import, adhering to all legal requirements and keeping in line with the EU tissues and cells directive; the main document, in European areas, which has created the benchmark in establishing rules and regulations for the movement of biological matter.
Mr Hura stresses that finding a company which has in-depth knowledge regarding cryo-shipping is a must; moving of such a highly sensitive cargo can be a complicated process involving additional permits and documentation. Permission from airlines is also not always straightforward or easy to confirm, and the safety of the fragile cells is paramount.
First Egg Bank moves an average of 200 shipments, per year, to more than 25 countries worldwide, including some areas of America and Asia, alongside Europe. They also boast a 100% successful delivery rate.
The advances in medical science and technology are forever increasing and Mr Hura believes it is an honour to be part of a process that enables new lives to be created and helps make dreams come true.- Questions and Answers