A British woman is expecting the country's first 'frozen egg' twins, it was revealed last week. The 36-year-old woman is said to be five months pregnant, following the use of fertility treatments that included the freezing of one of her eggs. Doctors at the West Midlands-based Midland Fertility Services (MFS), where the treatment took place, say hers is a 'normal and healthy pregnancy'.
Her eggs were stored in liquid nitrogen for 18 months before being thawed, fertilised in the laboratory with her husband's sperm, then implanted into her womb. The woman, who had previously undergone fertility treatment in 2003 chose to use egg freezing because she ethically objects to traditional IVF methods that involve the creation of multiple embryos and the destruction of surplus embryos. When she had IVF the first time, she had other eggs removed, dried and frozen before being stored.
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. It is believed that Emily's mother, Helen, is the only woman in the UK to have successfully given birth after a frozen-thawed egg was used. Only about 200 women worldwide are thought to have become mothers this way. Egg freezing is more difficult than freezing sperm, as eggs contain more water and therefore ice crystals can form inside the egg and damage it. Because the process is so sensitive, British clinics have only been allowed to perform the procedure since 2000.
Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of MFS, said that egg freezing was an invaluable treatment for women whose reproductive capacity may be harmed by treatment for cancer or other conditions. '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', she said. But a spokesman for pro-life group Life said they had concerns about such techniques. 'There has been a lack of follow-up studies on the children that are born using them', he said, adding 'the effect of liquid nitrogen upon eggs has not been fully investigated at this stage'.