Approaching fertility treatment can be intimidating. Particularly, when it comes to watching your precious eggs, sperm, or embryos head into a lab without you. You are putting your trust in people and a system you may know nothing about. We are strong believers that knowledge is power. By educating yourself, you can feel confident in your decision making. Today, we want to take you behind the scenes of Kindbody’s labs through the eyes of an expert in hopes of equipping you with all the information you need to feel empowered on your journey.
As a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist herself, as well as Kindbody’s Chief Medical Officer of Genomics and Lab Operations, Dr. Amber Cooper is uniquely positioned to take us inside and give us an in-depth perspective on Kindbody’s IVF labs. Below is our Q+A with Dr. Cooper:
What makes Kindbody unique?
First, we are incredibly patient-centric. We believe that everyone has the right to build their family. We do not exclude patients because they have very few eggs remaining or certain medical conditions that many clinics use to deny care. Regardless of age, race, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, we believe in improving access to care and have a large portion of our company devoted to doing just that.
We have built centers of excellence within Kindbody to handle unique diagnoses, as well as third-party family building using donor eggs, sperm, and embryos, as well as surrogacy. When you look across all of those layers, you see that we treat very complex patients who may have been denied care at other clinics.
We maintain the highest standards of patient care, clinical excellence, and laboratory safety, and we’re proud that our success rates are above the national average. We have our own proprietary technology, offering you online scheduling convenience for virtual and in-person appointments and an intuitive patient portal where you can securely message your doctor, chat with your embryologist, and access real time insights into your test results any time of the day or night. We want to empower our patients with this type of unparalleled access.
We believe in the highest level of certifications, including CLIA, CAP and SART as well as state-based regulations.
How do I know that my eggs, embryos or sperm will be correctly identified when I am ready to use them?
This is exactly why we have so many layers of checks and balances within our clinics, laboratories, and electronic medical records. What you may not realize is, every time you receive a wristband, collection cup, or appointment in our clinic, we add additional identification layers. Every tube, cup, or dish that has blood, urine, sperm, eggs, or embryos has unique labels and barcodes. We invest in technology intentionally to provide our patients with the best experience and the best outcomes. Our investments in technology include the electronic witnessing system RI Witness, which helps to mitigate incidents in the lab.
The radio frequency identification device (RFID) tags all dishes and improves efficiency while reducing human error. Furthermore, it allows tracking across all work areas in the IVF lab, which improves workflow and reduces the time that embryos may be out of incubators.
When you come in for your embryo transfer, there will be a timeout where you will see the actual small sticker that was on the straw that the embryo was frozen in. You will see the embryo number, your unique identifiers, and the date it was frozen. We will then confirm the report on the cryopreservation sheet and the PGT results with you. We create many layers of chain of custody, and checks and balances and, at the same time, try to remove the “mystery” of the lab by using TV monitors in rooms wired to the lab microscopes so you can see your embryo live in your own dish before transfer.
How do I know my eggs, sperm, and embryos are safely stored?
We have rigorous standard operating protocols in every lab. We have extensive training programs for all levels of incoming laboratory staff. We have backup generators and backup power sources. We utilize cryo storage tanks and technology that have inventory management and monitoring software like the TMRW Tank and the IVF Cryo Tank. Our cryo storage and lab processes are among our top priorities at Kindbody.
Tell me about incidents in the lab – do they happen?
They can happen anywhere but they are extraordinarily rare, with industry research suggesting 0.2%, meaning, 99.8% of the time, there are no incidents. Our labs follow highly regulated standard operating protocols (SOPs) as well as internal quality control measures in order to protect patients and consistently improve outcomes. Oversight in our labs includes high complexity lab directors (HCLDs), embryology lab directors, lab supervisors and very skilled senior embryologists. We consider “incidents” for internal process improvement even when there is no impact on individual patients. We learn from every incident, no matter how small. And we are always transparent with our patients, which we consider most important.
Kindbody recently launched Kindlabs. What does this mean for Kindbody patients?
Kindlabs is our in-house preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) division and it allows us to bring the entire continuum of care under one roof and provide a more seamless patient experience. At Kindlabs, we currently do PGT-A for aneuploidy testing. Under the scientific guidance of Manuel Viotti, PhD, HCLD (ABB), we offer technology that covers more of the genome than many of our peers. This means our data is “cleaner” and more informative which potentially reduces the odds we label an embryo as “abnormal” (aneuploid) when it may, in fact, result in a healthy baby. This is critical for our patients and particularly helpful for patients with diminished ovarian reserve.
Is there anything else you want patients to know?
At the end of the day, our mission is to build families and preserve the right to build families in the future for any patient who desires treatment. More so, it is to care for every single patient as you would want your family member or best friend cared for – with the highest standard of excellence, scientific rigor, and kindness.