Coronavirus sparks egg-freeze frenzy at NYC fertility clinic
A top Manhattan fertility clinic says it’s been inundated with women pushing to get their eggs harvested and frozen — because of the coronavirus.
“Literally, the phone has been ringing nonstop,” Dr. Brian Levine, director of CCRM Fertility NY, told The Post on Tuesday.
The deluge of calls and emails started Friday, with clients fearful about what the potentially deadly contagion could do to them, their eggs and embryos and their partners’ sperm, which they also want collected at rapid-pace, the doctor said.
“I was here till 9:30 at night doing consults by phone and seeing patients,” said Levine, noting that he usually leaves work no later than 6 p.m. “Yesterday, I came here at 7:30 in the morning and did not leave till 8:30 last night.
“In the last five days, I’ve seen at least a 25 percent increase in volume of people wanting to proceed with treatment than any given time.
“They were on the fence [about getting a procedure] — but this pushed them over.”
Levine said some women who have been calling and emailing, tell him: “I was considering about doing another cycle of egg-freezing or IVF, but I want to do it now before I get the coronavirus.”
“People think it’s imminent,” he said. “I tell people there’s no data to support there’s any effect on pregnancy.”
He added: “It’s not like Zika,” the virus that spread a few years ago that can cause certain birth defects.
However, the unknown factors about the virus is partly responsible for people’s concerns.
“I can understand people’s fears,” the doctor said. “We don’t know anything about pregnancy” and the coronavirus.
Anecdotal tales about a few pregnant coronavirus victims have surfaced globally, although none involving deaths or mother-to-baby transmission.
The CDC even admits on its website that it has no reliable data on whether pregnant women with the virus are more at risk of an “adverse outcome,” whether the bug can be transmitted from mother to child or even whether moms-to-be are more susceptible to getting it.
Levine said some clients are in a race against the clock because they are telling themselves, “What if there’s a six-month quarantine, and I’m 39 and will be 40 in six months?”
Others are even fearful that because of the stock market’s downward spiral amid the epidemic, their employer will cut back whatever fertility-treatment coverage it provides them — and they want to get in under the gun.
Some couples have predicted the fertility push and are simply saying, “I’ve been thinking about egg-freezing and want to get plugged in before you guys get overwhelmed,” the doctor said.
“My takeaway for everyone is the same,” he said. “ ‘If you are considering going down this pathway, it might be the time to investigate your options and do it sooner than later.
“We do know that if you get the coronavirus, you need to self-quarantine, and that will preclude you from going down any of these pathways.”
But he said he never anticipated what is occurring.
“What I really thought was going to happen was we’d be getting phone calls from people to move their embryos out of New York. Like, ‘Get my eggs and embryos out!’ ” Levine said.
New York reported its first confirmed case Sunday.
Levine said the clinic takes enough precautions to ensure no risk of transmission between any eggs and embryos.
But if it turns out that some eggs and sperm come in that are considered from a high-risk environment, “We already have a plan about that,” Levine said.
“We’re going to have to start quarantining these things in tanks.”