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New IVF technology to debut at San Diego clinic

Automated technology aims to make process safer
IVF Robot.png
Posted at 11:56 AM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 16:02:09-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The San Diego Fertility Center will be the first in the nation to deploy new robotic technology that will help store, track and maintain frozen embryos for In-Vitro Fertilization.

The TMRW Robot will be in use by next month at the center in Carmel Valley. It will take 17,000 measurements every day to make sure the embryos are kept in prime conditions.

It also codes each embryo and egg with a specific Radio Frequency ID to make sure scientists can track each one.

"There needs to be this level of trust between the mother and father and the caretakers of their embryos," says Dr. Michael Kettel with the SDFC. "I think this goes one step further in building that trust."

Since IVF treatment began, most of the storage and measurements taken on embryos has been done by hand, in tanks that hold up to 1,000 samples. The TMRW Robot will have room for nearly 20,000 embryos and make the process fully automatic. Doctors say that will remove any possibility of human error.

"We can't make a mistake," says SDFC Laboratory Director Bill Venier. "This machine will not let us make a mistake."

IVF mistakes have been in the news recently as families have filed lawsuits over embryos being given to the wrong parents. Venier says the TMRW Robot will all but eliminate the chance of that happening.

"We'll have 24/7, 365 (monitoring of) 17,000 data points to let us know everything is safe and is not going to be affected whatsoever," he says.

RELATED: Mother gives birth to other couples' babies because of IVF mix up

The technological leap forward was necessary as IVF pregnancies become more common. The CDC says 21 million people will use some kind of IVF method or storage by 2025. It also estimates that there will be 200-300 million babies born through IVF by the year 2100.

RELATED: IVF births expected to skyrocket this century

"I am certain you cannot go to a kindergarten class in San Diego where one of those children wasn't born through an IVF or some sort of fertility procedure," says Dr. Kettel.

For the San Diego Fertility Center, the new robot means they'll be at the forefront of the future of the industry.