Emergency Egg Freezing
Midland Fertility offers a rapid-response egg freezing service for young cancer patients before chemotherapy or radiotherapy begins, which offers the chance of future genetic motherhood while avoiding the ethical ownership issues which may result from creating embryos for very young or single women.
The Midland Fertility emergency egg freezing service is available seven days a week to maximise access to the service and minimise any delay in the start of cancer therapy.
With its central location in the Midlands, Midland Fertility is able to offer ‘satellite’ egg freezing in collaboration with a patient’s local IVF unit and the clinic has already established a reputation as the UK’s national centre for fertility preservation for cancer patients.
Fertility preservation for cancer patients will usually delay the start of chemotherapy or radiotherapy by only two to four weeks, as per the NICE recommendation: ‘Women preparing for medical treatment that is likely to make them infertile should be offered oocyte (egg) or embryo cryostorage as appropriate if they are well enough to undergo ovarian stimulation and egg collection, provided that this will not worsen their condition and that sufficient time is available.’ (Fertility: Assessment and Treatment for People with Fertility Problems, NICE, February 2004)
Egg freezing at Midland Fertility is handled by a dedicated team of clinical staff whose experience enables them to deliver a service which considers the time-restraints of women about to begin cancer treatment. The service is suitable for most types of cancer and staff at Midland Fertility, together with the patient’s oncologist, will be able to give the best advice for each woman. Midland Fertility is usually also able to secure funding from the patient’s CCG for the cost of the treatment.
Who may benefit from emergency egg freezing?
- any young woman recently diagnosed with cancer and before chemotherapy or radiotherapy begin (egg freezing is suitable for patients with most types of cancers but an individual assessment will be made by the Midland Fertility clinical team together with the patient’s oncologist)
For whom is emergency egg freezing not suitable?
- Midland Fertility is not able to register patients under the age of 18 years
What does egg freezing for cancer patients treatment involve?
- gonadotrophin drugs given by daily injections stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs than occur in a natural cycle
- the dose of stimulating drugs each patient needs is carefully calculated to optimise the number of follicles and mature eggs
- the patient will need to attend the clinic for ultrasound scans during the stimulation phase to monitor the number and size of the growing follicles
- when the follicles have grown sufficiently she will be advised of the day of her egg collection (usually about two weeks after she first starts taking the fertility drugs)
- egg collection is performed with ultrasound guidance under conscious sedation and with pain relief
- a nurse will – and a member of the family, friend or a partner may – be with the patient constantly throughout the procedure
- the collected eggs are washed and placed in labelled dishes before being put into an incubator where the environment mimics the inside of the body
- the eggs are stripped of the protective ‘cloud’ of cells to ensure they are mature and suitable for freezing. All good quality mature eggs are then frozen using either the slow-freeze or vitrification processes, or a combination of both, as advised by the laboratory team:
- using the slow-freeze method: the embryologist puts the eggs through a series of solutions to remove and replace their water content with a cryoprotectant to help preserve the delicate cell structures and avoid crystallisation during the freezing and thawing processes. They are then loaded into labelled glass straws and put into liquid nitrogen where they will remain at ‒196°C for possible future use
- using vitrification: the embryologist places the egg on a film-like ‘leaf’ within a tiny droplet of cryoprotectant in less than 60 seconds. This is then inserted into liquid nitrogen which rapidly cools the eggs at a rate of ‒20,000°C per minute. The flash-freezing technique changes the liquid cryoprotectant to a glass-like solid in which the egg is preserved and then immediately stored in liquid nitrogen at ‒196°C for possible future use
- the eggs are stored until the patient wishes to try to conceive with them. Currently eggs may be stored for up to 10 years, although this may be extended in exceptional circumstances
In the future if the patient is not able to conceive naturally, Midland Fertility can thaw the eggs, fertilise them using ICSI with partner or donor sperm and transfer any resulting embryos to her uterus. This stage of treatment is not guaranteed as part of the cancer egg freezing treatment. It is subject to the usual pre-treatment assessments and, should it go ahead, incurs an additional cost.
What is included in the emergency egg freezing treatment cost?
- ultrasound monitoring scans
- teaching how to give injections
- egg collection
- egg freezing and storage for first year
- continuing counselling for fertility-related issues
What is not included in the emergency egg freezing treatment cost?
- initial consultation
- treatment assessment
- cost of fertility drugs
- storage costs after one year
- cost of ICSI for thawed frozen eggs (if/when required)
- cost of donor sperm (if required)
- the HFEA levy for the creation in vitro, or transfer of, embryos (if required)
How long does emergency egg freezing treatment take?
Between two to four weeks from the first appointment to egg freezing, depending on the drug protocol.
NB Midland Fertility may be able to secure funding from the patient’s CCG to meet the cost of egg freezing for cancer patients. If this is not confirmed before treatment begins the patient will be liable for the cost of the treatment. Any payment may be refunded once funding is secured.
Cost of egg retrieval and egg freezing at Midland Fertility: £2,995.00
Cost of storage of embryos, eggs, sperm and sibling sperm (1 year) at Midland Fertility: £200.00
Cost of storage of embryos, eggs, sperm and sibling sperm (3 years) at Midland Fertility: £500.00
Cost of storage of embryos, eggs, sperm and sibling sperm (5 year) at Midland Fertility: £750.00
Also, go to the Midland Fertility Patient Treatment Information page and download the following infosheets:
- Emergency Egg Freezing
LU: 13/2/15 LJB