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First frozen egg pregnancy in UK

3 December 2001
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 136

Doctors at Midland Fertility Services in Birmingham, UK, have achieved a pregnancy using a human egg that had been frozen. This is the first time that such a technique has been successful in the UK, although it has worked in Singapore and Australia over a decade ago, but with very low success rates, resulting in the abandonment of the projects. It has been used more recently and more successfully in Italy, following the development of a new freezing and thawing protocol by Australian and Italian scientists.

The pregnant woman, who is in her 30s, is now nearly four months pregnant. It is thought that she had her eggs frozen while she underwent treatment for cancer. Freezing sperm is a technique that has proved beneficial to male cancer sufferers for many years. However, it has always proved more difficult to freeze and thaw a human egg, due to its high water content and the subsequent formation of ice crystals which cause damaged to it.

When the woman was given the 'all-clear' from cancer, her eggs were thawed for use in IVF procedures. Because the freezing process toughened the outer layer of the egg, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - the injection of a single sperm into the egg - was used. This resulted in a number of embryos, some of which were implanted into the woman. On the first attempt, the woman failed to become pregnant, but she was successful the second time around.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Freeze-thaw IVF first brings hope to cancer women
The Daily Mail |  3 December 2001
The egg timers
The Times |  1 December 2001
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