Oocyte freezing is an opportunity for cancer patients and young women to preserve their oocytes for future use. Generally, two methods are available for oocyte cryopreservation: slow cooling and vitrification. Recent studies comparing the two methods have demonstrated vitrification’s superiority to slow cooling for oocyte survival, fertilization, and cleavage development, as well as improving the patient’s chances for pregnancy.
Technically vitrification requires attention to timing and familiarity with the devices available for storing the oocytes. We have been involved in teaching vitrification around the US, Mexico, Canada, Europe and the Middle East for the past 3 years and have published and used vitrification in the laboratory for oocyte and embryo cryopreservation.
Who will benefit from vitrification?
- Young women with cancer who run the risk of having no viable oocytes following cancer treatment.
- Couples who have religious or moral issues with embryo freezing.
- Young women who are single and wish to freeze oocytes now in hopes of preserving their oocytes while young and at a time when they are less likely to have chromosomal aneuploidy.
- Programs interested in establishing a donor oocyte bank.
Vitrification is a skill that requires practice, not unlike ICSI. In one paper from Italy the authors reported that it took 5 months of regular practice to develop sufficient skills to get good survival from vitrified oocytes. I have over 3 years of experience in this area. Therefore, for laboratories who do not have the personnel or the time for this level of training, IVF Lab Consultants can:
- Provide all of the supplies and equipment necessary for vitrifying and/or warming oocytes (or embryos). We use Irvine Scientific’s solutions and CryoTips.
- Come to your laboratory and vitrify oocytes for your patient. After retrieval and cleaning by the host laboratory staff, we would vitrify the designated oocytes. Cryopreserved oocytes would be stored in your facility.
- When the patient is ready for her transfer, we would return to warm the vitrified oocytes. After recovery, either your staff can do the ICSI, or we can provide that service for you also.
Cost is $1000/day for vitrification cooling and/or warming. If we do the ICSI, there is an additional fee. Air, lodging and meals are additional.
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