Taking steps to preserve fertility for men and women is important to the physicians and staff at GENESIS. To set our patients’ minds at ease, our laboratory director, Dr Alka Goyal, answers some pressing questions about the safety of your frozen eggs, sperm and embryos.
Why do we freeze embryos, eggs and sperm?
Embryo freezing is a routine part of IVF and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment. It offers many benefits, not least the fact that embryos left over from a fresh cycle can be stored for future use. Eggs / sperm / embryos are also frozen to preserve fertility in case of disease / medical treatment and/or to delay child bearing to a later date.
How does GENESIS Fertility store frozen eggs, sperm, and embryos?
At GENESIS we use a flash-freezing process known as Vitrification, after which the samples are submerged in liquid nitrogen ( -196 C) Each specimen is loaded in straws (vials) with patients details and these immersed samples are stored in cryogenic tanks at a temperature of -196°C (-321°F). Virtually all biological activity is stopped at these temperatures, allowing samples to be preserved for months or years without much damage (Fahy et al). In order to preserve the integrity of the samples it is extremely important that during storage the temperature is maintained. -130°C is the glass transition point of water blow which ice crystals will form and damage the sample.
What safeguards does GENESIS Fertility use for storing frozen eggs, sperm and embryos?
The tanks that contain frozen matter are monitored 7 days a week. Each tank gets a physical inspection daily, looking for problems or signs of problems. We monitor the liquid nitrogen level of each tank and replenish the liquid nitrogen as needed, as it evaporates at a slow rate. The storage area is locked at all times and access is limited to authorized personnel only.
We also have electronic tank monitoring which uses Wi-Fi enabled sensors to ensure that tanks maintain the required temperature. Probes attached to the tank detect a rise in temperature or a drop in the level of liquid in the tank. Sensors are connected to an alarm system that will alert staff to an alarm condition outside of normal working hours.
The larger tanks are connected to an automatic liquid nitrogen manifold which is connected to two supply tanks which automatically start to fill the cryotanks when the levels start to fall. If the tanks are empty it also sounds an alarm.
The laboratory staff follows written standard operating procedures pertaining to the storage, maintenance, retrieval and transfer of frozen specimens to ensure cryogenic safety.
How do I know my frozen eggs, sperm and embryos are safe?
GENESIS storage tanks are continuously monitored 24/7 via local and remote access as mentioned above. If the temperature is not within the permissible limit, our lab director and staff are instantly alerted either in the office with alarms or on their cell phones by a specialized alert system In our tanks the probes are placed in the upper level, so in case the alarms go off overnight, the levels will not fall low enough to cause damage, as the specimens are suspended in the lowest level.
What if there’s a power fail or blackout?
The liquid nitrogen is independent of any source of power and can thus withstand power outages. The probes are connected to receivers via batteries. Also GENESIS has a gas powered generator that immediately turns on and delivers power to ALL laboratory equipment; there is zero downtime between a power failure and generator response.
Our Lab Credentials
GENESIS maintains and operates three state-of-the-art laboratories licensed by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). GENESIS is proud to be a member in good standing with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART).
Our Lab Director
Alka Goyal, PhD, HCLD/CC is the Director of Laboratories at GENESIS. She holds a High Complexity Laboratory Director’s license and a Clinical Consultant certification from the American Board of Bioanalysis. She also has the NYSDOH lab director certification and has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine for over 25 years.
If you would like to learn more about GENESIS Fertility New York please contact us online, or speak with one of our New Patient Specialists at 718-283-8600