The First Time I … Transferred an Embryo

Dr. Nancy Teaff
Reproductive Endocrinologist, Reproductive Endocrinologists of Charlotte (REACH)

Dr. Nancy Teaff

Chris Edwards

It was the first case we ran through the program. The lab was brand new. In the mid-nineties, it was a big deal for us to bring a high-quality IVF lab to Charlotte. The technology was new, and it was very exciting. The first IVF baby was born in 1978, the year I graduated medical school. Our first eight patients were pro bono. The first was in her mid-thirties. We had two three-day-old embryos to implant, which is normal for today but at that time we would routinely transfer three or four at a time.

Embryos aren't used to being exposed to light, so we worked in the dark, with just enough light to see by. It was very quiet, all about focus. The embryologist and nurse and I had done several dry runs, but it took us longer than we thought. At that time, we didn't have ultrasound guidance to help place the catheter and it was hard to position it just right. We have streamlined this procedure a lot since then. What took us forty-five minutes then now takes us ten. The patient was awake for the duration.

I can remember where I was when I got the phone call twelve days later, at a conference on Amelia Island, off the coast of Florida. She ended up having triplets. The patient was an identical twin herself, and one of the embryos we implanted split, so we got three for the price of two, so to speak. [The mother's] twin sister was in the room when I did the ultrasound that first showed the triplets.

When you look at the embryos you're putting in, and then see a baby nine months later, it's amazing. Those children are about fifteen now, and I ran into them all at Disney World of all places. —As told to Jill Waldbieser

Fertility Facts

  • 7.3 million women ages 15 to 44 have used fertility services.
  • 2.1 million married women ages 15 to 44 are infertile (7.4 percent).
  • 57,569 infants were born in the u.S. in 2007 as a result of assisted reproductive technology.
  • $12,000 to $17,000 is the approximate average cost of a single IVF cycle.
  • 1 in 8  7.3 million people in the u.S., and 12 percent of women of childbear- ing age are affected by infertility.

SOURCE: CDC and National Infertility Association

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