Thursday, August 13, 2009

Embryo Transfer Day


Today was the day for completing the main part of our project for this trip, which was to transfer the holstein embryos from the USA into the Boran cow recipients. I was so excited when I found out that the embryos were finally out of customs. Had they not gotten through in time, the short window of time that we had for implantation at the right time in the cows' cycles would have come and gone, which would have been devastating to our project's timing. We were told by many people that there was no way that a package like that was going to clear customs in the time we had left, but thanks to our great team, who worked tirelessly to get the embryos to us, and thanks to God above, we got them just in time for our work today.

We started transferring the embryos at about 10:30 and broke for lunch at 12:30. The morning progress was somewhat slow because we were doing a lot of training with the group, but we managed to get 12 embryos implanted. I was instructing the group on embryo thawing and preparation while Chris showed them how to transfer the embryos. We gave a few of them experience with using the implantation gun and preparing an embryo from the nitrogen tank to the cow. Everything went smoothly with the training and the transferring.

We drove to Ziway for lunch and found a nice little restaurant owned & operated by an American. We all ordered cheeseburgers and fries. It was nice to have American food! We were all amazed to have ice in our drinks, as that is not the practice here in Africa. We had a long talk with the owner who told us that he and his wife used to live in Washington D.C. but decided to go back to Ethiopia where she is from. He introduced us to the manager of the large flower-raising facilities in the area who is going to take us on a tour next Tuesday.

After lunch, the process went much faster, as we were doing less training and more transferring. Chris and I swapped positions a few times, and by about 6:00pm we were finally finished. We said our goodbyes to the staff, who had been great to work with. Then we headed back to our hotel in Shashamene. It was a satisfying day.

On our way back to the hotel, we saw an Isuzu truck swerve to the side and then stop. As ususal, an ox had wandered out into the road, right in front of the truck, and unfortunately, this time the ox was hit. I am amazed that we haven’t seen more accidents here, the way the animals just wander into the middle of the road all the time. The ox was laying down on the edge of the road and looked okay, but it wasn’t getting up. The hard part was seeing a young boy, about age 10, who had apparently been herding the ox, crying and running around in despair. I hope that the ox will be okay. Living here is a set of daily surprises and continues to stretch me physically and emotionally.

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