Our day starts by checking all of the equipment and cleaning the work surfaces in the lab.
We then start on the fertilisation checks, these are the eggs that were collected and mixed with sperm the day before. We are looking for 2 sets of genetic material visible in the egg, one from the male and one from the female. Once we have checked all of the eggs we call the patients and let them know their results.
Patients for egg collection that day are usually starting to arrive on the ward by this time so we go and see them to discuss the treatment plans for their eggs, sperm and embryos over the next few days. The egg collection procedures then start mid-morning and while one Embryologist is identifying, washing and sorting the eggs, another will be preparing the sperm samples. The sperm is also washed and the best swimming ones are selected for mixing with the egg.
We also warm embryos for the frozen embryo transfers around this time, to allow time for us to check on them in our incubators before they are transferred back into the uterus.
Towards lunchtime we do more embryo checks, counting the number of cells and grading those cells to start the selection process for embryo transfer. The majority of our patients have a single embryo transfer therefore making sure we have selected the best embryo for transfer is very important to us. We keep the patients updated with the results of every check we do.
Embryo transfers take place around lunchtime and again we spend time talking to the patients in their rooms and moving the embryos into special embryo glue culture media. We also take the embryo’s first picture to show the patients during the transfer.
We usually get a quick lunch break around now but then it is back down to the lab to start the inseminations and ICSIs. These are the two methods of mixing eggs and sperm. ICSI is probably my favourite job as an Embryologist, you are directly injecting a specific sperm into the egg so you have to choose very carefully!
After the mixing is done we start to think about preparing for the next day by setting up paperwork and dishes of culture media. We also have a lot of paperwork to do, sending letters to patients, answering queries and reporting our treatment cycles to the HFEA. I am very lucky that my job involves a lot of patient contact and we try to look after our patients with the same Embryologist throughout their time in the lab. I love my job and can’t think of anything better than combining my love of science with helping people become parents.