As wild storms threw the entire state into darkness on Wednesday night, the last thing most South Australians would have wanted to do was jump into their cars and drive to work.
But that’s exactly what embryologist Dr Michael Barry did.
The Scientific Director of Fertility South Australia spent the night at St Andrews hospital babysitting his patients’ embryos to make sure they survived the night of blackouts and extreme weather.
“I just drove into the lab and just sat there and made sure the incubators were working, everything was safe and waited until the power was back on and went home,” he told Mamamia.
The hospital has three backup generators, but if one of those had failed embryos, such as those being prepared for transfer, may have been lost, with devastating effects for patients.
“It’s a little bit like a loss of the child,” the IVF specialist with two children of his own explained.
“Our patients see those embryos as their future children.”
"Our patients see those embryos as their future children." Source: Fertility SA
To make doubly sure the embryos were safe, he brought along a battery operated incubator, which could be powered via the cigarette lighter in his car.
"I’ve been doing this for 26 years and it’s for that reason. You’re helping people with something that’s really important. I’ve got children of my own and I know how important they are to me and to my family, that’s the sort of mindset you come to this job."
Many of the patients were reassured when Fertility South Australia posted about Dr Barry's efforts on their Facebook page.
"When we had the blackout, it wasn’t my first thought," admits new mother Nikki Hammond, who has two embryos currently stored there.