Every year across Australia IVF clinics handle thousands of eggs and sperm (known as gametes) and embryos that are created through fertilisation.
How long they are kept on site really depends on the individual circumstances of each patient. Some gametes might be used within hours of collection, while others are frozen for future use. Embryo storage too can vary from a few days up to several years.
With more than 80,000 assisted reproductive treatment cycles in Australia taking place every year, the safe and secure custody of gametes and embryos is of the utmost importance to us and our patient identification process is extremely stringent.
These are some of the critical processes we have in place and the ways in which we abide by industry’s guidelines relating to the custody and traceability of gametes and embryos.
- Before any sample is collected the patient is asked to provide the laboratory or clinician with three unique points of identification and this is cross matched to the patient’s paperwork and the sample collection vessels waiting for the eggs or sperm.
- Any sample we have in our care is labelled in the dish or tube in which it is placed using three unique points of identification (name, date of birth and Unique Reproductive Medicine Unit number: RMU). Labelling happens at the very moment the sample is produced or collected.
- Whenever eggs, sperm or embryos are moved from one vessel to the other a full ID witness check takes place between two independent scientists who read aloud the name, date of birth and RMU number of every dish and cross match it to the paperwork to ensure that everything is matching and the vessel-to-vessel move is able to proceed. This is then co- signed on paperwork for us to be able to full trace it.
- When embryos are transferred back into a patient, full ID tracing is performed. This includes checking directly with the patient (three points of ID) and cross matching the information to the paperwork and the embryo in its culture dish, a process that involves both the scientist as well as the clinician present during the procedure.
- All our witness records are constantly audited to ensure compliance and to ensure signatures are present and correct. We have a zero tolerance for any breaches relating to the custody of gametes and embryos, our processes or policies.
It’s a privilege to be entrusted with the care and custody of your gametes and embryos and it is never lost on us that every egg, sperm and embryo has the potential to help create a baby.