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moving frozen embryos

a blog by Grey Fox, February 12, 2014

Have you moved? Have you changed fertility clinics? Are you thinking of moving? Are you worried about what happens to your embryos if you move?

It can be emotional to move your embryos. You worry that something will happen during transit. I cannot promise you that it won’t. But I can tell you what’s involved and how it’s done.

I’ve moved mine. Twice.

Here’s how the logistics work for most clinics:

  • Receiving clinic ships a container equipped to hold the embryos and keep them frozen. Usually they are charged enough to hold a freeze for about a week.
  • Outgoing clinic receives the container, loads in your embryos into it and ships the container back overnight.

    Usually your clinic charges the shipping costs straight to the credit card number you give them. They may or may not also charge you handling fees for shipping/receiving. Of the three clinics I’ve worked with 2 out of 3 charged for those services.

    There’s also a fair amount of paperwork involved. You and your spouse will have to sign - and most likely notarize - a release form from the current clinic, a form authorizing the new clinic to receive the embryos and potentially an agreement to pay storage fees to the new clinic. Plus the embryos have their own paperwork that travels with them detailing how they were frozen, how many cells they had when they were frozen, etc. But you don’t have to worry about that paperwork beyond making sure it gets to the new clinic.

    Having done this twice now, I have learned a few things along the way.

  • You are going to worry about them. Just accept it and move on.
  • The process does not always work as I listed above.

    For the first move, my new clinic did not have a container. All three clinics I’ve been to are university affiliated clinics and one simply did not have the budget for an expensive shipping container. But they also didn’t charge me storage fees. But the debate of private clinic vs university clinic can happen another time. Ultimately we were able to use the outgoing clinic’s container. Barring that, there are companies that rent them. Fertility Authority can help you with this.

    Now, here’s where it gets really dicey. It is standard practice (or so I’ve been told) for fertility clinics to ship embryos via that company that Tom Hanks worked for in that movie where his best friend was a volleyball named Wilson. You know the one I mean. But there’s a catch. Despite the fact that it is common practice to do this, and despite the fact that I did it for the first move, that company’s policy PROHIBITS the transport of certain items - animal and human embryos are on that list.

    Some delivery guy, presumably unknowingly, brought my embryos across the country. OK so it wasn’t just one guy, I’m sure there were a host of employees who contributed to getting my embryos across the country. And they were, to my knowledge, safely delivered. But when I learned this fact prior to their second move, I opted to drive them myself (they were also travelling a shorter distance the second time around). The container was shipped and then I picked it up with the embryos loaded inside and drove them to their new home.

    So there you have it. That’s how it’s done. Only you can decide if you are comfortable having your babes out traveling on their own. Personally, I think mine need a badge at this point. Or perhaps a passport.

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