Ethical issues are one of the many concerns of the individuals when deciding to store embryos. Questions on neutrality and concepts of being a “human” rise when talking about storing and preserving embryo and sperm. What these criticizers of embryo storing do not understand is that a baby born out of a frozen embryo is in fact, a “human,” in all definitions of it. Moreover, freezing embryos is not a foreign concept to the people of today since the first embryo freezing procedure was successfully performed and completed way back in 1984. From then, thousands or hundreds of babies have already been born after spending some embryonic stage preservation time in the freezer.
Embryo freezing, preservation, and storing are most commonly done as the next step to people who underwent a successful in vitro fertilization. Most of the time, people who undergo the procedure of in vitro fertilization yield more fertilized eggs than what they need and prefer. Instead of just throwing these embryos away in just a whiff, in vitro patients choose whether to donate these embryos to others’ who need the same treatment, to donate it to medical institutions for research and learning purposes, or to preserve them or freeze them, for their personal use. Some of the reasons why individuals choose to store, freeze, and preserve their embryos are to delay the childbearing for personal preferences, to delay childbearing due to a surgery or an illness such as cancer(women diagnosed with cancer and have plans of childbearing are usually advised to freeze, preserve and store their eggs before undergoing chemotherapy, or radiation therapy since the processes aforementioned have a high potential of decreasing a woman’s fertility), or to preserve the embryos since they are still unsure whether the need and want for another child will arise in the future for IVF.
To freeze an embryo would mean that water is drained out of the embryos without killing the cell before storing it at a low temperature. Water needs to be removed as the volume of the water expands as it freezes. Ice formation inside the cell than would cause it to burst and die. The water inside the embryos will then be replaced with antifreeze or a cryo-protectant. The embryos are then cooled slowly and then stored.
The storage medium for these frozen embryos is usually in a liquid nitrogen form. In our laboratory, we have the most recent and state of the art embryo preservation equipment. Our equipment is powered with a cutting-edge technology of vapor phase tanks of liquid nitrogen that does not need and does not depend on the electricity so that we will be able to keep your embryos frozen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Strict monitoring of these embryos is also implemented 24/7 so that your embryos will certainly be in good hands for many years to come.
When talking about many years to come, how specific than is this long period? In all honesty, there is no knowing when or what the maximum storage or withholding period of these frozen embryos might be. Usually, embryos are stored for 25-30 years, but embryos stored this long are usually unclaimed and will then be thawed out. However, some patients and individuals have come back for their embryos in a 12-year gap and still successfully bear babies.
After explaining the process of storing embryos, there is also the reversal procedure known as thawing. The owner of the embryos are the only ones who can decide whether to thaw his or her embryos out. A formal letter of request in hard copy must be signed by the owner and notarized with one of our staff as a witness.