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How to Get Started

We are working hard to transfer your frozen specimens!

If you have frozen specimens at the Regional Fertility clinic at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, you’ve probably received notification that these specimens will have to be transferred to another clinic of your choice.  Our website has all of the information you need to get started. Specimens might include frozen sperm, frozen eggs, or frozen embryos.  We think of these materials as if they were patients, so the safe and high quality movement of those samples is really important – to us and to you.

How does the process work?

If you wish to move these specimens to PCRM, call Cheryl (transition team coordinator) at the Royal Alexandra Hospital Regional Fertility clinic 780-735-6654.  That is the first step to get the process underway.  Cheryl will have you sign a consent to release the frozen tissues, plus one of our consents for receiving such material.

Meet Carole and Ryan

Carole is our Scientific Director at PCRM.  She directed our fertility lab in Burnaby during the closure of UBC’s fertility clinic and with that experience in addition to her 30 years of dealing with human reproduction makes Carole unique in training to handle this transition.

Ryan is the Scientific Director at the Regional Fertility Program and his extensive experience with the lab, and your samples, is key to a safe transition.  Ryan and Carole are working together to ensure your specimens are compliant for transfer, and can be moved and properly stored at PCRM for potential future use.

How do you move frozen specimens?

Once all the compliances and consents are in place, the actual frozen samples are sent in a dry shipper through courier, received by PCRM and cataloged.  We courier samples like these across the world, and whether it’s to Australia, or down the street, the same systems are required.

Is it urgent?

It depends.  If you recently did IVF, and have frozen embryos you wish to use, then we will make these cases a priority – so please identify as such when you call Cheryl.  If you did IVF or froze eggs/sperm from many years ago, and just want these transferred – we will ship these, but in the longer not shorter term.

We look forward to helping in this process.  Please understand that it might take some time, because moving frozen specimens must be done with great attention to detail – and that’s our job!

How it Happens

The shipping container used for transporting frozen sperm, oocytes and embryos consists of an inner tank which has been completely saturated with liquid nitrogen.  The liquid nitrogen can hold the temperature below 150 °C for 7+ days.  The frozen samples are placed into the pre-cooled inner steel canister, which is then placed into the dry shipper.  The dry shipper is then placed into a hard-sided, outer protective box.  The outer box protects the dry shipper from any risk of tipping and puncture.  The dry shipper is primed and filled with liquid nitrogen prior to every shipment.

 

Once frozen sperm, oocytes or embryos arrive at PCRM-Edmonton, they are very carefully transferred over to the main storage bank.  The bank consists of multiple dewars that have steel canisters inside designed to hold the samples submerged in liquid nitrogen.  Each of our dewars have a probe inserted through the lid and the probe is connected to a monitoring unit.  Should the monitoring unit detect a level of liquid nitrogen that has decreased, it will issue an audible alarm and if after hours, will send a signal to our lab monitoring system (Sensaphone).  The Sensaphone will then call the laboratory personnel and they will verify the condition of the storage dewar.