CryoStorage

What Is Cryopreservation?

Cryopreservation is a process that preserves organelles, cells, tissues, or any other biological constructs by cooling the samples to very low temperatures (Jang TH, 2017). Cryopreservation of reproductive material is a routine practice in advanced reproductive technology (ART) clinics. Cryopreservation techniques have evolved throughout the years as research leads to improvements in these techniques and thus improves reproductive outcomes.   

Vitrification is currently the best method for cryopreservation of oocytes and embryos. Vitrification is the ultra-rapid cooling of an oocyte or embryo from 25°C to -196°C in less than one second. This ultra-rapid cooling allows the whole solution to form a glass-like state, without the formation of ice crystals. Ice crystal formation can be detrimental to reproductive tissues as the crystals can pierce cellular membranes which leads to damage of the oocyte or embryo. ICRM has utilized vitrification for all oocytes and embryos since 2010. If you would like more information on egg freezing or fertility preservation in women with cancer, please follow the provided links.

Sperm banking via cryopreservation has been utilized by ART clinics for years. This is the process in which a semen sample (or multiple samples) are produced, frozen via cryopreservation, and then stored for future use. This banking allows clinics to have a backup sample for fresh collection cycles, perform FDA testing for patients, and preserve the fertility of patients diagnosed with cancer. ICRM has been using sperm banking since its inception. If you would like more information on fertility preservation in men with cancer, please follow the provided link.

Where Can I Pay My Cryopreservation Bill?

ICRM works with Embryo Options, a third-party billing service, to manage our cryo-storage payments. You can select this link to be taken to the login page. From there you will need to login using either your temporary login information (provided via a welcome email from Embryo Options) or the login information you previously created.

Please note that sperm, embryos, and oocytes all have separate accounts and logins. If you created a login for your sperm account, you need to create a different username and login for your embryo account. If you use the same login as a previous account, it will take you to that previous account and not your new account.

Once inside your account, you can set up payments for a one time pull or a payment plan. You can use either a PayPal account, or credit card for payments. Please note that your preferred method of payment will automatically be used for your next payment unless you change it prior to the payment date. You will be notified 45 days in advance of the automatic renewal date of your upcoming storage charge(s).

If you have forgotten your username or password, please visit the login home page here and then select either “forgot my username” or “forgot my password”.

If you have any questions about logging in or your account in general, please email: customerservice@embryooptions.com.

If you are looking to pay a bill from the clinic for services or treatments, please use the following link for your payment(s).

We are also now accepting SelectHealth and PacificSource Navigator Plans.

What Are My Options Now That I Have Completed My Family?

ICRM has provided these options to help patients better understand their disposition options and help them make an informed decision regarding their frozen embryos. As these programs all change frequently, the information provided here may not be the most up-to-date for each program. To ensure the most accurate information, please visit each program via the links provided. ICRM does not promote one option over the other and is happy to assist patients with questions.

Transfer to Long-term Storage

Local - Idaho

ICRM has been working with North American CryoBank (NACB) as our preferred long-term storage option since 2015. They are a fully accredited cryobank facility and use the same cryo-storage tanks as ICRM. They also have a state-of-the-art cryo-monitoring system for their storage tanks. They offer discounts when paying for multiple years of storage at one time; however, they do not offer refunds. If you pay for three years and decide to discard your embryos after two years, you do not get refunded for the difference.

NACB is a great option for patients wanting to keep their embryos for longer time periods or for a future sibling. ICRM also offers free delivery and pick up of embryos from NACB for all ICRM patients. If you wish to come back to ICRM for a future transfer, ICRM will bring your embryos onsite prior to the transfer, then take them back to NACB after a positive HCG reading.

If you wish to pursue this option, consents for both ICRM and NACB will need to be completed prior to the transport of the embryos to NACB’s facility. An ICRM employee can send you the necessary consents for this option. You can find more information on NACB by visiting their website here, by completing the contact form here or by emailing patients@nacryobank.com.

Within United States

ReproTech is a highly trusted cryostorage facility offering long-term storage to IVF centers and oncology professionals. The closest storage facility to ICRM is in Nevada. For more details on Reprotech, please use the following links to their sit: about Reprotech, cryo-storage services, embryo cryo-storage pricing, and cryo-storage locations.

Donation to ICRM’s In-House Embryo Donation Program

Via Anonymous Donation

ICRM has an in-house anonymous embryo donation program that allows former patients the option to help other families with their reproductive journey. As an anonymous embryo donor, ICRM will do their best to protect your identity, but we cannot control the ability of recipient(s) or future offspring(s) from being able to locate you or find your identity independent of ICRM through outlets such as social media, internet searches and commercial DNA testing companies.

ICRM works closely with our affiliate Building Blocks Agency (BBA) to enroll new embryo donors and help facilitate matches with potential ICRM recipients. If you looking to become a recipient of donated embryos, please see this page to contact BBA.

If you would like to donate your embryos anonymously or have questions about this option, please reach out to BBA by emailing, info@buildingblocksagency.com. They will be able to discuss this option with you and then send you the necessary consents to sign. Once the consents are complete, you will be sent a link to help you complete your online profiles for the embryos. Once your profiles are complete, your donation is complete, and you are no longer responsible for embryo storage fees at ICRM.

**Please note embryos donated to ICRM’s embryo donation program will only be available to ICRM patients and not outside patients. Only PGT normal or untested embryos can be donated.  Any abnormal embryos will be discarded unless another disposition method is selected for these embryos.**

Via Known Donation

ICRM has an in-house known embryo donation program that allows former patients the option to help other families with their reproductive journey. The known embryo donation program allows donors to have interactions with future recipients and future children created with their embryos.

The level of communication or connection can be set by donors and should be included in online profiles so potential recipients can determine if that level of communication or connection is what they are also looking for. A legal agreement is necessary for this type of donation where the terms of the agreement will be determined and stipulations, such as the embryos returning to the donors or complete control allowed for recipients, can be added.

If you would like to proceed with a known donation or have questions about this option, please reach out to BBA by emailing, info@buildingblocksagency.com. They will be able to discuss this option with you and then send you the necessary consents to sign. Once the consents are complete, you will be sent a link to help you complete your online profiles for the embryos. When your profiles are complete, you are no longer responsible for storage fees at ICRM, but the known embryo donation is not yet complete.

As the donor, you will need to wait until a recipient reaches out to you to initiate a match. Once a match is made, embryo donors and recipients are required to complete individual and joint consultations with a reproductive psychologist. This will occur with each recipient of your donated embryos. If you have many embryos for donation, it is likely to offer your embryos to multiple recipients, so that the most families can benefit from your kind donation. However, if you wish all your embryos go to a single recipient or family, you can make that request as well. If there are multiple recipients, there will be a joint consultation with each recipient, however, your individual consultation is acceptable for all matches. Typically, recipients cover all legal and psychological fees.

**Please note embryos donated to ICRM’s embryo donation program will only be available to ICRM patients and not outside patients. Only PGT normal or untested embryos can be donated.  Any abnormal embryos will be discarded unless another disposition method is selected for these embryos.**

Donation to an Outside Embryo Donation Program

ICRM understands that our in-house program might not be what our patients are looking for and has provided these outside programs as options for those patients. If you choose to donate via an outside entity, there is also the choice of an anonymous or a known donation, but this will depend on the specific requirements of the desired program.

The following are outside programs for embryo donation that ICRM is aware of. Please contact these programs for specifics about their program and donation requirements: Nightlight/Snowflakes, Embryo Connections, National Registry for Adoption, DonorNexus,  National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), and Embryo Donation International. There may be other programs for embryo donation available that ICRM is not aware of and if you choose to donate to that program, we are happy to help facilitate that donation.

Once your donation to the outside program is complete, you are responsible for fees to ship the embryos to the desired holding facility or for continued cryo-storage fees at ICRM until a match is made. Most of the time, the recipients of your embryos cover the costs to ship the embryos from the holding facility or ICRM to their desired clinic. If you choose this option, consents for both ICRM and the program of choice will need to be completed.

**Please note embryos donated to outside embryo donation programs will only be available to potential recipients of that program. Most programs only accept PGT normal or untested embryos for donation, but this depends on the program.  If the program does not accept abnormal embryos, they will need to be discarded or donated via another disposition method prior to the shipment of the donated embryos to your desired program.**

Donation to Science/Outside Research

ICRM is currently only aware of one program that is open to taking embryos specifically for research purposes. They do not accept embryos that were created using donor sperm and/or donor egg and are only taking PGT-M tested embryos at this time. Completion of this option will depend upon acceptance of your embryos into the program. If your embryos are accepted, then consents for both ICRM and the program will need to be completed.

Please use the following link for specifics about their program and donation requirements: University of Michigan – MStem Program

There may be other programs for donation to science/research available that ICRM is not aware of and if you choose to donate to that program, we are happy to help facilitate that donation.

Donation to Teaching/Training/Research

IVF is a continuously changing field and donating your embryos to help teach and train the next generation of embryologists is another option for disposition. There are a few programs that ICRM is aware of that fulfill this purpose and they are listed below:

IVF Academy USA – Accepts all embryos and oocytes. Please reach out to dranderson@embryodirector.com for specifics about this program.  

World Embryology Skills & Training (WEST) – Accepts all embryos, oocytes, sperm, testicular and/or ovarian tissue. Please contact them here for specifics about this program.

ARTLAB – Please reach out to eva@artlabconsulting.com for specifics about this program.

To donate to any of these programs, please reach out to an ICRM staff member to send you the necessary consents.

Take Possession of Your Embryos

This option allows you to take your embryos to dispose of them as you see fit. Patients who select this option appreciate the opportunity to be able to perform a burial, ceremony, or create a small memorial from/for their embryos. Please note that embryos are irreversibly non-viable within minutes of taking them out of our liquid nitrogen storage tanks. If you would like to proceed with this option, please reach out to an ICRM employee for consents.

Request a Compassionate Transfer

This process is similar to a normal transfer with two major differences. The embryos are transferred at a time when the uterus is not receptive to implantation and inserted into the vagina, not the uterus. Both measures deter implantation and pregnancy from the transfer, as we are placing embryos in the wrong place at the wrong time. A consultation with your doctor or coordinator to discuss this option and answer any questions is highly recommended. There is a small fee associated with this option that covers the cost of supplies necessary for the transfer. If you would like to proceed with this option, please reach out to an ICRM employee for consents and to set up a consultation.

Discard All Embryos

If you do not feel that any of these options are suitable for your embryos, you may do additional research on your own to find another program not listed here or you may decide to discard all of your embryos. The quickest and easiest way to complete this process is to access your embryo storage account via Embryo Options and select to discard via DocuSign. Once completed, ICRM will receive an email with your documents and a lab member will confirm the disposition via email. There is a small fee to confirm identities that will be charged by DocuSign at the time of the signing. You can also print the forms, complete the signatures with a notary, and then email or mail the completed forms to ICRM.    

Once you have decided on your desired disposition or have general questions about these options, please reach out to your coordinator or tori.hurst@idahoreproductive.com to help assist you with the disposition/questions.

References

Jang TH, P. S. (2017). Cryopreservation and its clinical applications. Integr Med Res, 6(1):12-18. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2016.12.001