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Monday, April 04, 2005

Electronic Tags For Eggs, Sperm and Embryos!!

(Via Newscientist) Cases of wrong mix and match in IVF treatment have happened in the world in the past. Excerpts from an interesting article:
So white couples have black children , vice versa etc.The UK’s regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is considering labelling all embryos, eggs and sperm with barcodes or electronic ID tags.The idea is that an alarm will sound if the wrong eggs and sperm are brought close to one another, for instance, or if a doctor attempts to collect the wrong embryo to implant into a mother-to-be. An independent report commissioned by the UK’s chief medical officer suggested clinics use a system of double-witnessing, which requires an embryologist to ask a colleague to witness and document every procedure in which an error could occur. But with 25 such procedures required for each round of IVF, the system is laborious. And it still leaves room for human error.
Barcoding has been used for more than a decade in the UK’s blood transfusion service, where it has slashed the error rate. Digital cameras built into the IVF clinic’s benches read the barcodes off the bottom of labelled dishes containing eggs. A computer then reads the codes, and sounds an alarm if they do not match with the patient. The electronic tags, known as RFID tags, work in a similar way. They can be placed on the bottom of a dish containing an embryo, and are activated by radio waves which transmit across a clinic’s designated work areas. When activated, RFID tags respond by transmitting a unique ID code. If the samples don’t match [the patient], or you bring together two things that shouldn’t be in the same work area, the alarms will sound.RFID tags are said to be safe for in vitro procedures. The tags only transmit when activated by an external signal. And they work at the low frequency of 13.5 megahertz compared with 900 to 1900 megahertz used by cellphones.

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