A British woman has given birth to the country's first 'frozen egg' twins, it has been revealed. Margaret McNamee gave birth to twin girls Anna and Isabelle Fahey last month, following fertility treatment at the Midland Fertility Services (MFS) clinic in Walsall.
The couple originally had IVF treatment to conceive their son Matthew, now 22 months old. They decided to freeze the three eggs left over from this procedure, because creating and freezing surplus IVF embryos went against their religious beliefs. 'We simply couldn't countenance freezing embryos because we would have seen it as freezing little people', said Mrs McNamee, adding 'this was a way of trying to have our family while staying true to our principles'. The eggs were stored in liquid nitrogen for 18 months before being thawed. Two were fertilised in the laboratory with sperm from her partner, Michael Fahey, then implanted into her womb.
The first baby to be born following the use of a frozen egg in the UK was Emily Perry, in June 2002, also after treatment at MFS. Gillian Lockwood, head of MFS said that the three births offer hope to women who need an alternative fertility treatment to freezing embryos. These include women who have to undergo cancer treatment that could damage their fertility, those who have ethical concerns or those who have not yet met a partner. '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', Dr Lockwood told the BBC News website.
A second couple are now reported to be expecting twins after having treatment using frozen eggs at MFS. 'We are thrilled to see this technology could produce another happy family', said Dr Lockwood. Egg freezing is much more difficult than freezing sperm, as eggs contain more water and therefore ice crystals can form inside the egg and damage it. Only an estimated 2-300 babies in the world have so far been born following fertility treatment using frozen-thawed eggs. However, recent advances in techniques that involve drying out, or 'vitrifying' the egg before freezing it look set to improve the success rate of the procedure.