In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure done to help couples with infertility problems. It consists of extracting egg cells from the mother, fertilizing the egg in a laboratory environment, and placing the fertilized embryo back into the mother. The journey of using IVF treatment can be a long and difficult one. On average, each IVF cycle costs an average of $12,000 which does not include the costs for hormone treatment to extract the eggs. The entire process usually takes around four to six weeks including the dreaded “Two Week Wait” period.
During this time, the couple waits to see if her implantation resulted into pregnancy, which often takes a huge emotional toll on couples. Currently, all IVF procedures only have an average success rate of 30 percent so clinicians suggest patients to be prepared to undergo at least three IVF cycles. The physical, financial, and emotional burden of these IVF treatments have discouraged many couples from going through more than one cycle. In an effort to maximize success rates, unsafe techniques have been practiced, such as implanting multiple embryos into the mother, which can often lead to multiple pregnancy. This has inherent health risks as the children have a higher risk for gestational diabetes, prematurity, and low birth weight. Since clients simply cannot afford to pay for this procedure multiple times if the first procedure is unsuccessful, most clients feel compelled to take on the health risks of multiple embryo implantation.
An Emotional Tale
A prime example of the risks associated with multiple embryo implantation is emphasized through the story of Erica Morales. Erica could not conceive children naturally due to fertility issues. She needed to undergo IVF in order to conceive her own children. Fortunately, Erica became pregnant with quadruplets and delivered them successfully. However, she died shortly after the delivery.
Erica’s death highlights a critical problem with the current method and culture surrounding IVF.
“I went from having the best day of my life to the next morning experiencing the worst day of my life. My four babies came into the world and then my wife died.”
— Carlos Morales, Erica’s Loving Husband
The fertility clinic’s decision to implant multiple embryos into Erica was the contributing factor that led to her untimely death. In multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.), both the mother and child are three to four times more likely to die during the operation. The inherent health risks are known to both the clinician and the parents, but both parties will usually move forward with multiple implantation because only 30 percent of all IVF procedures result in a successful birth. Clients simply cannot afford to pay for this procedure multiple times if the first procedure is unsuccessful. Therefore, most clients are compelled to take on the health risks of multiple embryo implantation.
A Bright Solution
Our company, , proposes a device that screens the embryo before implantation to predict its chances of resulting in successful birth. Our device will be able to allow select the healthiest embryo, so that only one embryo will be implanted and one healthy child will be born. In this way, we can provide IVF clients higher success rates, lowering the financial costs of IVF without sacrificing the safety of the clients.