In Vitro, In Vegas
Today Heidi underwent egg retrieval. Darren, her husband, was present in the procedure room and observed the entire process. Heidi was super nervous, but who could blame her?
Heidi was attended by Dr. Sharon Poon, who administered her anesthetic. Heidi and Darren both drew considerable comfort from the fact that Sharon has also done two IVFs with us and both times she was successful (with 8-year-old Charissa and 6-year-old Blake). What is more, Sharon is also our resident acupuncturist and also gave Heidi her acupuncture. So everything seems to be going well for Heidi and Darren at this time.
After Sharon administered Protocol anesthesia, Heidi went straight off to sleep. Darren could hardly believe how tranquil she appeared in her somnolent state. With Darren watching on and clearly somewhat emotional and in awe, we aspirated 10 eggs from Heidi's ovaries. Nine out of the 10 were mature. At Heidi's age of 43 only about 1 in 10 mature eggs are likely to be chromosomally normal, so with 9 mature eggs she has a real shot—all we need is for one of those nine to be chromosomally normal.
Another bonus was the fact that at egg retrieval, Heidi's uterine lining measured 12 millimeters, which is excellent. So the Viagra-and-acupuncture treatment seems to have been worthwhile.
Now we head over to our IVF embryology laboratory. If all goes well we would expect seven or eight of Heidi's nine mature eggs to fertilize. Of these, hopefully four or five would make "potentially viable" embryos (i.e. those that reach six to nine cells by the third day after fertilization), and for half of these embryos to develop into blastocysts (the most advanced, 100-plus cell preimplantation stage embryos), five to six days from now.
We have found and have reported on the fact that embryos that do not make it to blastocyst stage are almost invariably chromosomally abnormal and not worthy of being transferred anyway. Who are we fooling by transferring embryos before they reach this stage of development?