Twin ‘Frozen Egg First’ From Midland Fertility Services

Issue Date: 1 May 2005

Midland Fertility Services has confirmed a twin pregnancy from frozen egg fertility treatment. It is understood to be the first in the UK.

A 36 year old patient is currently 22 weeks pregnant following the fertilisation with her partner’s sperm of her own eggs which have been stored in deep freeze for 18 months. The twins are due in September 2005.

After successful fertility treatment in 2003, and believing that life begins at the point of fertilisation, the patient elected to freeze her eggs rather than embryos.

The pregnancy follows the birth in June 2002 of the UK’s first ‘frozen egg baby’ using the baby’s mother’s own egg – also after treatment at West Midlands-based Midland Fertility Services (MFS).

“It is wonderful to have further proof that this new development in assisted conception can offer real hope of genetic motherhood to many women who require fertility treatment, including those at risk of premature infertility or those who have concerns about the cryopreservation of embryos,” said Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of MFS.

Oocyte, or egg, freezing provides a fertility treatment alternative to many women, particularly:

* young women with cancer who need to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments which may damage their future fertility
* women who have ethical concerns about freezing embryos as part of their fertility treatment
* women suffering from a medical condition likely to result in premature ovarian failure, such as severe endometriosis, or the loss of their ovaries
* women who are not in a relationship and who want to preserve their fertility potential by freezing eggs for possible future use

Under the care of MFS, a patient’s ovaries are stimulated with fertility drugs routinely used in IVF treatment and, after a few weeks, several eggs may be collected and then frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196°C.

The challenges of successful egg freezing and subsequent thawing and fertilisation include:

* the egg is a relatively large cell to freeze so the cryo-protectant takes longer to enter the cell because of the surface volume ratio
* the cryo-skeleton – the structure that holds and organises the chromosomes within the cell – is a delicate structure and, if damaged, could lead to the possibility of misplaced chromosomes
* a higher sucrose concentration is required to remove the water content from the cell to decrease the chance of ice-crystals forming and disrupting the cryo-skeleton
* the hardening of the zona pellucida, the ‘egg shell’, means fertilisation may only be achieved with Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment

When patients are ready to start a family, MFS thaws the frozen oocytes, fertilises them with partner or donor sperm using the ICSI technique and transfers the resulting embryos into the patient’s womb. The patient will know within two weeks if she is pregnant.

ends

Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a variation of IVF treatment where a single selected healthy sperm is injected into the inner cellular structure of the egg, using a glass needle 1/14th the width of a human hair.

MFS was established in 1987 and is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to offer a range of fertility treatments and procedures including IVF, ICSI, egg donation, egg and embryo freezing and sperm recovery. In 2002 the UK’s first ‘frozen egg’ baby was born following treatment at MFS and in 2004 MFS treated its 11,000th patient and celebrated the birth of the 3,000th baby born after treatment at the clinic. Based in Aldridge and Wolverhampton, it treats both private and NHS patients.