The embryologist called to update us on the status of the fertilized eggs at "Day 3".
Potato #1's batch developed another fertilized egg! To their surprise, a 3rd egg was found to be cleaving!! Woo-Hoo!!! That means I now have THREE chances to procreate instead of just two!!! According to the embryologist, I have:
- One 8 cell embryo
- "Two nice" 6 cell embryos
- Three 8 cell embryos
- One 6 cell embryo
- Two 4 cell embryos
Generally speaking, the Clinic has developed grading methods to judge oocyte and embryo quality. Embryos are graded by the embryologist based on the number of cells, evenness of growth and degree of fragmentation. The number to be transferred depends on the number available, the age of the egg donor, the age of the surrogate, and various other health and diagnostic factors. Embryos that have reached the 6-8 cell stage used to always be transferred three days after retrieval; this is still true today if there are really only a couple of embryos available (or based on other extenuating factors). However, if there are many good-quality embryos still available on day 3, the embryos are placed into an extended culture system with the transfer done at the blastocyst stage at day five. Blastocyst stage transfers have been shown to result in higher pregnancy rates for a variety of reasons.
I know I'm providing lots of details here, and I hope they are accurate. In the event they aren't, please let me know so that I can update the blog post, as I don't want to be misleading anyone reading this.
Here is a "generic" picture of an 8-cell embryo for transfer 3 days after fertilization.
On a separate note, I think it is also important to point out that the first transfer of an embryo from one human to another resulting in pregnancy was reported in July 1983, and subsequently led to the announcement of the first human birth resulting from IVF on February 3, 1984. It is really amazing to think that what initially caused all sorts of controversy ("the test tube baby") has evolved over the past 25 years into what is now a mainstream clinical practice.
This is simply amazing stuff, and truly an amazing application of technology at work for ME!