Once the patient and doctor have produced eggs and sperm it is the laboratory’s job to create and grow healthy embryos. Thereafter, the doctor transfers those embryos into the woman’s uterus.
The clinic and doctor are interdependent. If the doctor’s protocol is unable to produce enough healthy eggs and sperm, or the laboratory enough healthy embryos, the cycle will end in failure.
In our minds, the laboratory has four key, discrete tasks to provide the doctor with healthy embryos to transfer. The laboratory needs to fertilize as many eggs as possible, cultivate the resulting embryos to a healthy state, be able to biopsy the healthiest embryos for genetic testing (if requested) and then freeze/thaw either eggs or embryos for future use. Each step is crucial, and there is often no agreed-upon ‘best practice’ to execute any step, but thankfully each discrete task can be measured and laboratories can be compared (which we'll cover in the next chapter).
Pulling back the curtain on how laboratories operate. Experts will tell you that laboratory quality varies dramatically and a superb laboratory can double your odds of success. In this course we’ll teach you about the role of the laboratory and why it’s so pivotal. In addition, we’ll provide you with the criteria and questions you should use to determine if you are at a world-class laboratory or merely a competent (or incompetent) laboratory. There may be no more important determinant of your clinic’s abilities than the skill of their embryologists and the quality of their laboratory.