Our team had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Venier from San Diego Fertility Center, one of our highly valued and long-time clients since the beginning of Cryoport®’s inception in IVF shipping services. Mr. Venier is currently a Lab Director at SDFC, with over 20 years of experience in embryology, andrology and state-of-the-art IVF lab techniques. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Human Reproductive Biology from Imperial College, University of London and is certified by the American Board of Bioanalysis as an Embryology Laboratory Director, ELD (ABB). Bill has trained with some of the top industry professionals in the clinical IVF field in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
Tell our readers more about San Diego Fertility Center (SDFC) and what you do.
Venier: San Diego Fertility Center has been around since the 1980s and has grown into a world class center. When I joined the team as an embryologist in 1994, SDFC was initially a boutique regional fertility practice until we broke into international markets, with the first international countries being Australia and New Zealand due to the high demand of donors in the area. We then expanded our reach to China and Europe soon after, partnering with top clinics all around the world.
SDFC is an IVF program that has completed over 2,400 cycles of fresh egg retrievals and frozen embryo transports. We have many international patients that ship to and from our facility, and a lot of these shipments go through Cryoport®. Although the center had to pause all fertility treatments briefly during the global pandemic as per guidance of American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), we came back stronger than the year prior.
What do you enjoy most about working at SDFC and in the reproductive medicine field?
Venier: I actually fell into the reproductive medicine industry back in the late ‘80s, when Human IVF just started to take off. I was previously working in the bovine industry of embryo transfer and sexing/cloning was very popular at the time. I love everything we do from beginning to end, with much excitement from the high technology procedures like biopsies. The bottom line, though, is seeing pictures of newborns coming to life. Seeing what we’ve done and helping parents achieve their dreams at a family is truly heartwarming.
We know that aside from being an embryologist at SDFC, you and your wife started a program called World Embryology Skills and Training or WEST. Can you tell us more about that?
Venier: Because the fertility world is constantly changing and many industry professionals are looking to retire soon, we launched WEST recently with the mission to recruit pre-med, pre-vet, and life science students from universities and speak to them about the embryology field as well as providing them with a career path where they are helping patients every day. We train interested students in an intensive three-month course, so they are not trained on the job which takes a couple years. We then help these students find opportunities and a placement for their work.
How has IVF trends and the technologies evolved over the years?
Venier: The technology, as you can imagine, has changed greatly and in ways that makes our lives easier through automation. Now, there are companies that supply the tools that we used to need to develop ourselves so we, as embryologists, can focus on what we do best – working with embryos, sperm, and eggs!
Receiving infertility treatment can be a financial burden for many intended parents. What are some financial resources that your clinic offers and sets you apart from other clinics?
Venier: IVF treatment can be expensive, that’s no doubt. We started a program here at SDFC using INVOcell, a low stimulator where we put the sperm and egg together briefly after retrieval in a special device and incubate into the patient. After five days, we take the device out and look for embryos. This is a low cost-alternative to the traditional full IVF cycle.
As for financing options, SDFC is committed to providing affordable fertility costs to each and every patient. We partner with lending companies to offer flexible financing plans, provide free financial consultations to maximize a patients’ insurance benefits and coverage, offer discounted IVF cycle bundle packages, and more.
How did you first learn about Cryoport®? What prompted your organization to choose Cryoport® in providing the services you need as opposed to other transportation & logistics providers?
Venier: We’ve been working with Cryoport® since early on in your development and have seen the growth of service offerings and processes throughout the years as your client. Not only are we closely located geographically, we also wanted to partner with a business that cared about the patient and the patients’ materials just as much as us we do. With that said, we believe that Cryoport® is the perfect match for us to work with.
Specific features and benefits of working with Cryoport® include the attentive care of material in each individual shipment, protection with their condition monitoring device, Smartpak II®. This is especially important for shipments going nationally and internationally. Cryoport® also offers insurance options to provide our patients an extra layer of protection. Having such policies available for parents help them feel more confident and comfortable in shipping their materials across the world. These are just a few of the items that Cryoport® checks off as we continuously use them over and over again. Although patients have the ultimate decision on which shipping provider to use, SDFC always has Cryoport® on the top of mind.
Describe your experience working with Cryoport®.
Venier: Cryoport® has been a gem for our industry and has helped many couples achieve their dreams and goals of starting a family. Because we work with a lot of military couples that move often, Cryoport® has been a big help with specifically those patients and internationally. Many families have been achieved with Cryoport®’s help! Cryoport® has grown with the industry and technology, shipping for years now and all around the world.