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How safe is it to transport cryopreserved reproductive specimens?

This is becoming a popular question as more patients move and ship their specimens to a new clinic, use donated eggs, etc.

Vitrification is a more effective way of preserving embryos/oocytes than slow freezing them and is most likely used by your fertility clinic. However, vitrification is demanding and requires the eggs/embryos to be handled with great care.

One must ensure their temperature stays below -120 degrees Celsius; otherwise, the eggs/embryos will be spoiled.

For long-term storage, embryos are stored in cryo storage tanks filled with liquid nitrogen. The temperature of liquid nitrogen is -196 degrees Celsius. At this extremely low temperature, all cellular biological processes are suspended, and, as a result, oocytes and embryos can be kept for years or decades and continue to be used.

However, the temperature must remain stable during this period. This is the reason fertility clinics must constantly refill their storage tanks with liquid nitrogen.

So how do you ship eggs/embryos that need to be constantly kept below -120 degrees to another county, state, or continent? Cryo shipping experts such as ARK.CRYO specializes in the safe transport of sperms, eggs, or embryos, across the globe with their excellent logistic capabilities.

First, the eggs/embryos are removed from the tank and placed in a shipping dewar to keep them frozen. For land-based shipments, liquid nitrogen is used; however, air travel might discourage using it.

The inner surface of the dry shipper contains retention foam that acts like a sponge and is capable of absorbing some liquid nitrogen, releasing only vapor but not liquid nitrogen.

Well prepared, it will withstand many adverse temperatures, from -150 to -190 degrees Celsius, for several days (week), which should be enough to transport to any part of the world. ARK Cryo express delivery promises 24-hour delivery anywhere in the world.

Upon delivery, the recipient opens the clinic container and places the eggs/embryos in their storage tanks (liquid nitrogen) until they are ready to use them.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,500 samples are shipped each year between clinics. Most of these are vitrified donor eggs that are sent to clinics from egg banks. And for historical context, shipping slowly frozen embryos has been going on since the late 1990s.

Generally, each clinic will accept cryopreserved embryos/eggs from another clinic. The only exceptions could be the inadequate documentation.

Suppose the distance between two clinics is short, for example. In that case, if both clinics are located in the same city, it can be considered using hand delivery by the patient possessing the egg/fetus, which can cost next to nothing.

The cost of shipping an egg/fetus to the United States over long distances is roughly two to four hundred dollars. Still, this shipment varies depending on the arrangements of the clinic's shipping companies.

International delivery can cost 1,000 dollars or more, depending on the destination. International delivery involves all kinds of regulations and customs formalities, so only a handful of companies have enough experience to handle this efficiently.