UNITED STATES—The United States is home to some of the most favorable and forward-thinking laws and practices concerning surrogacy worldwide. With commercial surrogacy being legally protected and defined since 1976 when the first surrogacy agreement was brokered by lawyer Noel Keane.
What really makes surrogacy USA stand out above many other options isn’t necessarily the legislation, however, but the technological explosion. Assisted reproduction technologies have pushed boundaries and created new frontiers in the tech and medical industries, especially in the last 20 years.
This doesn’t only come as a boon for tech industries alone- but for hopeful parents and families that wouldn’t have the option of a child of their own otherwise.
The Technology of Surrogacy
“Surrogacy USA, or anywhere else for that matter, is an incredibly exciting field for myriad reasons.” Says a representative for a leader in reproductive technologies and surrogacy USA, Ilaya. Ilaya, a familiar name for many types of advanced medical treatments and practices, also happens to be on the precipice of surrogacy technology. “For many, what makes the field of US surrogacy so exciting is the options that it can afford people who may not have had any choice several years ago.”
Those options, combined with the latest in cutting-edge technology are just a few things that make Ilaya worth talking to. We took an in-depth look at the equipment they’re using to help sculpt a better future for thousands.
Surrogacy USA: Gamete Donation and Embryo Storage
The donation of biological materials, such as sperm and eggs (gametes) has required sophisticated advancements in both storage and retrieval of the materials. Sperm donation banks have existed for quite some time, whereas egg donation is a fairly new occurrence.
Largely, this is due to the complicated methods that must be employed when retrieving a woman’s eggs. While both sexes must undergo rigorous testing, re-testing, and a thorough screening process, it’s unquestionably easier to retrieve semen. Wray explains how it’s done in Ilaya’s facility.
The technology behind contemporary egg retrieval procedures is something that has seen incredible advancement in just a few short years. Novel procedures have aided in the likelihood that more and more intended mothers can donate their own eggs to the surrogacy. It has not only allowed for ease of maternal donation but provided options to parents who historically had none.
Eggs release and growth can now be stimulated by administering injectable hormones prior to retrieval. These hormones cause the ovaries to release multiple eggs, where naturally only a very few are released during any given cycle.
Retrieving the eggs uses a much more precise method than what was historically employed. Whether the eggs are being donated by a third party, or by the intended mother herself, the retrieval process is the same. Physicians sedate the patient and retrieve the eggs vaginally, using a fine needle and transvaginal ultrasound. Newer ultrasound technology allows physicians to have a much more vivid view of the ovaries and areas from which the eggs can be retrieved. A suction device it attached to the aspiration needle and used to gently “vacuum” up the retrievable eggs. Post-retrieval, eggs are then placed into a nutritive medium where they are incubated and allowed to mature, readying them for fertilization.
Cryopreservation is sure to pique the interest of just about everyone. With its reality deeply rooted in sci-fi culture, cryogenics is as fascinating as it is advantageous.
Cryopreservation methods for semen, eggs, and embryos are similar. Samples of the tissues are taken and then placed in a vial that is rapidly cooled using liquid nitrogen or solid carbon dioxide. This method allows the sample to be preserved, without damaging the delicate tissue with the formation of ice crystals. In fact, Ilaya found that 98% of embryos were still viable for implantation following cryopreservation.
To avoid any mix-ups or lab errors, the material is marked with the help of an individual code generation system- similar to the barcode scanners used by hospitals in their coding and billing systems. Using a Zebra scanner, Ilaya then reads the data assigned to each tissue sample, as they are prepared for use.
Surrogacy USA: Fertilization Methods
Once specimens have been collected, either from the intended parents or donors, fertilization can begin. While both retrieval and proper storage of gametes have a profound effect on the viability of the material, it’s the advancements in IVF (in vitro fertilization) protocols that have truly improved success rates.
Ilaya found that using the following methods, there was a 62.4% pregnancy rate after the first IVF attempt. An impressive feat, considering the average statistical likelihood of falling pregnant after one cycle still rests around 33%.
Round two is even more impressive with Ilaya’s protocols, as they found a 75.8% pregnancy rate after two consistent cycles of IVF. Numbers that exemplify why it’s so important to be at the forefront of assisted reproductive techniques. Surrogacy USA is very rarely a cheap option for hopeful parents, so success rates within the first few cycles of IVF are necessary for most couples.
Ilaya uses a Leika DMi8 microscope with the highest quality optical reproduction, in order to be able to adequately visualize the both the egg and the sperm. Historically, eggs were bathed in available sperm and left for nature to take its course. This produced varied results and was found to be less than cost effective. Now, Ilaya practices the latest and most advanced ICSI (intercytoplasmic sperm injection) techniques known to modern science. In this protocol, healthy and viable sperm are injected directly into the egg itself. Virtually eliminating many male infertility barriers, such as poor sperm motility or problems with egg cracking enzymes.
Ilaya then uses the Narishige Takanoma System for fertilization, which is a four axis hanging joystick oil hydraulic micromanipulator. A mouthful for sure, but this system is state-of-the-art when it comes to microinjections. Allowing for the most efficient and accurate injection of sperm cells directly into the egg.
For reliable cultivation, Ilaya uses the ESKO MIRI flatbed incubators, these systems allow for setting the ideal gas concentrations without a humidification system, all in individual zones. Eliminating contamination from airborne particulates, as well as giving each patient’s materials their own area.
Mediums are created in a sterile laboratory setting in Binder incubators. Ilaya goes a step farther to be able to control the air purity within the laboratory itself. They employ a multi-filter system, including Heppa filters and a Zand air purifier with gas level control, capable of scrubbing out VOG particles and other airborne contaminants. Ensuring that nothing comes in contact with the embryos, except the genetic materials themselves.
Surrogacy USA: Building Better Babies?
While “designer babies” still aren’t really a thing, Ilaya is capable of controlling some factors that can give parents more than just the child they’ve longed for, but also a piece of mind.
All of Ilaya’s surrogacy programs allow parents to use PGD. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is a novel approach to the health of future children and expectant mothers. PGD takes a well cultured embryo and assesses it for any chromosomal or genetic defects or diseases. Reducing the risk of miscarriage as well as many fatal congenital defects that parents have no control over. However, Wray says that outside of testing for disease, the only “designer” approach they have is letting the parents know the sex of the child early on.
But, if you’re struggling to have a family of your own, that’s all the design you need. Knowing that with technology and advancements in technology, anyone can have the healthy and happy child they’ve been wanting. Even if they can’t carry it themselves.