Fertility Treatment Milestone – Birth Of UK’s First ‘Frozen Egg’ Twins
Issue Date: 11 October 2005
Midland Fertility Services (MFS) has confirmed the birth of the UK’s first twins conceived after frozen egg fertility treatment.
The twin girls were born on 14 September after a normal delivery at 38 weeks.
Their arrival follows the birth in June 2002 of Emily Perry, the UK’s first ‘frozen egg baby’ using the baby’s mother’s own egg. To date all three babies born in the UK from this technique were born after treatment at Walsall-based MFS.
MFS has also confirmed that another patient is currently pregnant after frozen egg treatment.
After learning they required fertility treatment in order to conceive, and believing that life begins at the point of fertilisation, all three patients elected to freeze their unfertilised eggs rather than to create and store supernumerary embryos.
“Currently only about 300 babies have been born worldwide from frozen eggs,” said Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of MFS. “MFS’s successes with frozen egg treatment offer hope to many women who require fertility treatment or who are at risk of premature infertility, but who have concerns about the cryo-preservation of embryos or who have not yet met a partner whose sperm can be used to create embryos.
“There is no additional risk to the patient or the baby from using frozen eggs, than from using frozen embryos, providing the clinic is experienced with the egg freezing technique.”
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
* 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 spindle – 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 spindle
* 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 knows within two weeks if she is pregnant.
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 1/10th 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. In 2004 MFS celebrated the birth of the 3,000th baby born after treatment at the clinic and in June 2005, registered its 13,000th patient. Based in Aldridge and Wolverhampton, it treats both private and NHS patients.