SAN ANTONIO – Olivia Randle is only 10 months old, but already she's contributed to science. She's among the first babies born to parents who used a new technology designed to help couples using invitro fertilization achieve pregnancy.
"We thought the whole concept sounded pretty amazing," said Lisa Randle, Olivia's mother.
Having suffered miscarriages in the past, Lisa Randle and her husband, Chris Randle, wanted to do whatever they could to make their IVF cycle a success. So they participated in a study at the Fertility Center of San Antonio, a test clinic for a new technology called Eeva, or Early Embryo Viability Assessment.
The technology, just cleared for commercial use by the FDA, helps doctors identify which embryo to implant in the mother. Currently, the Fertility Center of San Antonio is the only center in Texas to offer it.
Dr. Thomas Pool, director of the Fertility Center of San Antonio, said the technology significantly increases the odds of pregnancy with IVF.
"In our hands, it ups the pregnancy rate 20 percent," he said. "We looked at 50 patients and in those that we could transfer an Eeva high embryo, the pregnancy rate was 73 percent, which is astronomical for IVF."
Typically with IVF, doctors would eyeball the embryos under a microscope and select the ones that looked most promising for implantation.
With Eeva, the fertilized egg is placed inside an incubator equipped with sophisticated cameras that snap pictures every five minutes, creating a time-lapse. One advantage is the embryos do not need to be removed from the incubator and be exposed to outside elements.
The test creates a video and uses statistical modeling developed by researchers at Stanford University to analyze the embryos and categorize them as to how likely they are to continue to develop.
During the first two days of an embryo's development, Pool said if specific events occur within specific time windows, an embryo is considered to have more potential to develop.
"So being able to see in the first two days and being able to predict what's going to happen five days down the road is a tremendous additional piece of information helping us to decide which ones to transfer," Pool said.
As for the Randles, watching their baby Olivia develop literally from day one was exciting.
"I just think she's my beautiful daughter," Chris Randle said. "Yes, there is a lot of science that went into it. It is pretty amazing to see what develops into a beautiful baby."