While the joys and challenges of parenthood are eternal, the methods that we use to build families have changed dramatically and the pace of that change continues to increase.
As technology and science enable us to overcome infertility, make family building more accessible to the LGBTQ community, extend IVF to genetic disease prevention, and preserve the fertility of young people with cancer and other diseases, we are building an infrastructure to efficiently treat larger numbers of people with increased likelihoods of a good outcome.
As we build a greater capacity to help more people build families, we face the challenge of making sure that IVF becomes safer, and that the increases in the number of eggs, sperm samples, embryos, biopsy specimens do not overwhelm our ability to keep track of them.
The miracles of IVF: the scientific discoveries, the novel procedures, the higher pregnancy rates and — most important — the babies themselves need to be matched by perfect execution in the unglamorous drudgery of labeling, storing, inventorying, and maintaining and retrieving each of those specimens.
The core of this seemingly mundane process is labeling — giving each unique specimen a means of identification that makes sure it is properly handled, transports to where it is meant to go when it is meant to be there, and always attached to the person or couple who produced and/or are meant to use it.
Embryos created using the most advanced science and engineering should never go to waste because of faulty logistics, nor should the certainty of a specimen’s identification ever be in doubt.
(Framed drawing in the basement of a restaurant in Rome, next to the bathrooms)