MFS Confirms Birth of UK’s First Two ‘Flash-Frozen’ Egg Babies

Midland Fertility Services (MFS) has announced the birth of the UK’s first baby born from a ‘flash-frozen’ egg.  It marks another milestone in the development of fertility treatment and confirms MFS’s position as the UK’s leading egg freezing clinic.

Olivia Grace Bate was born on 9 December 2010 to Karen Bateman (36) and Carl Bate (40) of Wolverhampton, following two cycles of IVF at the West Midlands-based clinic.

Olivia Grace Bate with her parents Karen Bateman and Carl Bate and Gr Gillian Lockwood (l), medical director of MFS and Su Barlow, laboratory director (r)
Olivia Grace Bate with her parents Karen Bateman and Carl Bate and Dr Gillian Lockwood (l), medical director of MFS and Su Barlow, laboratory director (r)

Egg freezing was required as part of their fertility treatment and the embryologists at MFS discussed the two alternative techniques of slow-freezing or flash-freezing, also known as vitrification, with the couple, before they gave consent to the process.

And a second ‘flash-frozen-egg’ baby, a boy, was born in January 2011, also after treatment at MFS.

Freezing eggs has been available at MFS since 2000 and the clinic’s and the UK’s first frozen egg baby was born in May 2002.

To date, the eggs which resulted in the birth of all seven babies born in the UK following the freezing of the mothers’ own eggs were all collected and frozen at MFS.  The first five babies were born after treatment involving the slow-freeze method where the eggs are cooled and frozen over a few hours.  But Olivia is the first baby in the UK whose egg was instantly flash-frozen before being stored in liquid nitrogen at -196°C and then thawed, fertilised with her father’s sperm and transferred to her mother’s uterus a few months later.

Evidence suggests that vitrification may improve pregnancy rates by increasing the survival rates of the eggs after thawing from 65% to 95%.

Carl Bate, Olivia’s father said: “Olivia means the world to us and learning that she is part of IVF history means she is even more special.”

Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director at MFS said: “These two births are wonderful news for the parents and families of the babies and testament to the skill of the laboratory team at MFS.

“Live births from vitrified eggs represent two important aspects of egg freezing; many young women will need egg freezing treatment over the coming years to preserve their fertility before they undergo cancer therapies, and those women who know that they want to be genetic mothers one day but are not in a position to try for a baby now, may also benefit.

“Women are well aware that over the age of 35 they face a reduced chance of pregnancy and an increased risk of miscarriage.  But frozen eggs are always the age of the woman when they were collected and vitrified and do not age while in storage.”

Issued: 4 April 2011

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Notes

Explanation of the vitrification/flash-freezing process.  An 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.

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 May 2002 the UK’s first ‘frozen egg’ baby was born following treatment at MFS.  In September 2005, the UK’s first twins were born from ‘frozen eggs’ fertility treatment at MFS, followed by the first ‘frozen egg’ boy in December 2005.  In April 2006 the clinic’s first twins were born following the mother’s treatment with Vi4gr4 as part of her fertility treatment at MFS.  In early 2008, the 4,000th baby was born after treatment at MFS and the clinic celebrated its 21st anniversary in June 2008.  The 4,500th baby was born in August 2009.  The clinic’s and the UK’s first two vitrified egg babies were born in December 2010 and January 2011.  Based in Aldridge, West Midlands, MFS treats both private and NHS patients. 

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