Making babies

12 Jan

Helping couples who can’t get pregnant on their own is, as it turns out, not so different from the science taught in reproductive physiology courses that Kristin Sieren-Behmyer took in the Animal Science Department at Iowa State.

You collect some eggs. Collect some sperm. Put them together in the laboratory. And transfer the resulting embryos into the uterus.

In cows, this is a fairly straightforward process. But with humans, there’s the, well, human side. Kristin meets with patients who come to Austin IVF (in vitro fertilization) and works closely with the doctors who perform the physical procedures. Once in the lab, Kristin and the other human embryologists inseminate the eggs, often by injecting sperm directly into the egg with the aid of a high-powered microscope. After 3-5 days the embryos are implanted.

“Every patient is different,” Kristin said. “Every day here is different. This work is fascinating and rewarding.”

Kristin, a Keota, Iowa native, received her animal science degree in 1998 and went on to earn an MS in animal physiology with a specialization in reproductive physiology in 2001. She’s been working at Austin IVF less than a year, after working in similar clinics in Dallas for two years and in Wichita for seven years.

“I think I have a really cool job,” Kristin said.

Kristin gave photographer Jim Heemstra and me a behind-the scenes tour of the lab and surgical suite. IVF is a fascinating process and serious business, but Kristin and her colleagues seem to have a lot of fun working together. The day we were there, Kristin’s co-workers teased her about her allegiance to Iowa State.

“I really wear this cap to work, not just for the photo! You can ask anybody,” she laughs. “I am very proud to say I got my education from Iowa State.”

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