Gamete Embryologists - Guardians of the IVF Laboratory
By Eve Shen and Lucia Povinelli
Gamete embryologists are at the forefront of day-to-day activities of an IVF clinic. The embryology lab is where the “miracles” of our work take place.
The requirements of taking care of eggs, sperm, and embryos are extraordinary, and there is no margin for error. But as demanding as our work is, we cannot think of another profession we would rather have. We are your babies’ pre-nurses responsible for bringing about their actual manifestation.
Our rewards are when pregnant couples show up with their proud baby bumps, or sleep deprived parents bring their happy little gals or guys to visit with us.
In this blog, we will share with you some of our daily routines. There is so much more than working with your sperm, eggs, and embryos that we are responsible for.
We normally arrive at our clinic a little after 8 AM, but we are really on duty 24/7 (including weekends!). We must be available anytime the eggs, sperm and, embryos need our attention. Individual patients’ embryos progress at different rates. We must be able to adapt our schedule to that of the developing embryos.
We come to work in a set of "outside" clothes and change into clean scrubs and head and shoe covers before entering the lab. We keep the lab door always locked before and after our daily activities.
The embryology laboratory environment plays a crucial role in the embryo culture. Great care is taken to implement a daily routine of quality checks.
Our day begins with measurements of the gas mixture composition and the temperature of each incubator. This verifies that embryos are being sustained in the most optimal in-vivo conditions.
Next, we check liquid nitrogen tanks used to store cryopreserved eggs, sperm, and embryos. It is essential that all cryopreserved samples are never exposed to temperatures above minus 135°C.
Additionally, all heated microscope stages, heating blocks, refrigerators and freezers are checked to verify that their temperature readings are within the required range.
Every parameter we measure is double checked by an independent instrument. All devices are linked to an alarm system that would remotely alert us if a critical parameter falls outside of specification.
Another daily routine is setting up culture dishes and medias. These will take about eight hours to equilibrate inside incubators and therefore must be prepared a day ahead of the procedures for which they will be needed.
Throughout all these routines, we must safeguard the identity of patients’ blood samples, sperm, eggs, and embryos. This is the most crucial aspect of embryology laboratory activities. At Bay IVF, multi-layer safety measures are taken to guarantee the "chain of custody" of your eggs, sperm, and embryos.
It is a lot of work to maintain an embryology laboratory, but the results of our work can be so rewarding. We feel honored to be a part of your treatment team. You can always count on us to be there for you to reach our shared goal: a baby for you!