New embryo screening test brings hope
By Nina Burton
For anyone going through IVF, it's an emotionally taxing, and at times devastating journey.
A test now available in New Zealand could help to make it easier for couples trying for a baby by screening embryos to find out if they're likely to survive.
For eight years a woman, who does not wish to be named, and her husband have been trying for a baby. They've been through two failed IVF cycles already.
"Every time you have an embryo put back it can be quite heartbreaking when you get the failed result," she says.
But she is about to have pre-genetic screening (PGS), which for the very first time can now be done in a Christchurch lab.
"It allows us to choose an embryo that has the right number of chromosomes and that embryo is way more likely to go on and be a healthy baby as opposed to a miscarriage," says fertility specialist Mary Birdsall.
"We always like to be at the forefront of science and we're glad to be there again," says clinical director and professor of pathology Dr Peter George.
Until now embryos were sent to Australia for screening, costing around $10,000. In New Zealand it will be a third of that price.
"Applying PGS to that bunch of embryos might save you money in terms of the cost of doing frozen transfers because there might not be five useable embryos," says Ms Birdsall.
It's not 'designer babies'. Couples can't find out the sex and it won't harm the embryos, but it does double the chance of a healthy live birth.
"I suppose not having that disappointment to begin with would be good because if you have embryos, and they're tested and none of them are successful, then you wouldn't have to go through that in the first place," says the woman.
Fertility Associates say while PGS is leading-edge, it's not experimental.