By Jackie Garcia, Cryoport.
There are many reasons you may need to move your gametes (eggs or sperm) to a new clinic location – you could be moving to a new home address, want to try your success with a new doctor, or need to move your materials from storage to your desired clinic in order to begin treatment.
No matter the reason, needing to transport these materials can be more than a little overwhelming, as you likely find yourself wondering how to even begin planning to move the precious materials that could ultimately become your child.
I work for Cryoport, an IVF shipping provider with over a decade of service to intended parents. We offer families our exclusive CryoStork® shipping services to ensure precious reproductive materials are handled with care from clinic to clinic, safely and securely. Below, I’ll share the most common questions we receive about transporting embryos or gametes for fertility treatment, including questions about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on shipping.
Can I move the gametes or embryos myself, or should I hire a specialised courier?
Your gametes and embryos need to be stored and transported safely in specialised shippers, called dewars, that can maintain cryogenic temperatures (-150° C to -196° C / -238° F to -321° F). If your materials are exposed to temperatures warmer than this range, they risk being damaged. In order to move your materials as safely as possible, it is highly recommended to use a specialised and experienced courier to arrange pickup, transport and delivery.
Some clinics lease out their own dewars for a small fee; dewars are also available for sale online. It is important to note that these dewars must be certified for safety and temperature control to ensure stability.
How do I select a courier to move my materials?
You will want to consider the courier’s overall cost, experience with transporting temperature-sensitive medical materials, live tracking capabilities, insurance options, customer service responsiveness, and customer feedback.
Large shipping companies, such as FedEx, often provide their shipping service by using smaller, specialised vendors that are better equipped to transport fragile items. The most experienced IVF shipping providers have tested and mapped the best routes to accommodate safe and reliable deliveries.
Specialised couriers such as Cryoport, may be more expensive, but these couriers often provide more reliable tracking and customer support. Some specialised couriers even offer a hand-carry option, meaning a person is assigned to travel with your dewar in the cabin of the aircraft; this service brings an additional cost.
Overall, you have a variety of shipping options available, ranging from larger mainstream corporate providers to the more niche and experienced medical shipping companies.
Is it safe to move my materials during the pandemic?
Yes. If your clinics are open, staff may be able to accommodate the pickup and delivery of your selected shipping provider. You will want to double-check that your clinic will have enough staff on hand to prepare your gametes and embryos for shipment. Clinics may have fewer employees onsite than usual when they choose to re-open.
You will also want to ensure that your selected courier has adjusted its safety, cleaning, and staffing procedures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Is it possible to safely move my materials to another country?
Under normal circumstances, yes. Shipping internationally is sometimes preferred for intended parents who wish to have their IVF procedure in a different country. There are several reasons why someone may choose to have their procedure completed internationally, including pricing, success rates, or perhaps a partner or donor is currently in another country.
Most countries have some form of regulation in place for transporting gametes and embryos, so be sure to check with your clinics that they have the correct licences in place before starting the process.
Due to COVID-19, some countries may have higher restrictions regarding shipments going in/out of their country. Flight cancellations are also common right now. This may cause a slight delay in some transports. It is important to be aware of current restrictions for the specified country before proceeding with a shipment transfer. Clinics may also be operating at minimal capacity, so you will want to ensure your origin and destination clinics are open for business.
If you would like any more information about shipping your gametes, contact Cryoport ® directly
For your peace of mind:
- Cryoport ® has over 10 years of IVF Shipping Experience
- Trusted with over 5,000 IVF shipments per year
- 29 global facilities in 16 countries
- Over 150 countries served
- Superior Client Support team actively monitors all IVF shipments
- Exclusive Insurance Options available