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First egg bank to open in the UK

29 November 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 286

The UK's first 'human egg bank' is set to open this week, according to an article published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper. It is said that the bank will store and offer for sale 'more than 1500 frozen eggs', which 'infertile couples can buy for their hereditary characteristics such as their eye and hair colour and height', enabling them to create 'made-to-order' babies'. It is illegal for clinics to sell eggs, sperm or embryos in the UK, but patients can pay for private fertility treatment using donated materials.

The new egg bank has been created, says the paper, by Mohammed Taranissi, director of the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London. He has built up the store of eggs over five years, using donations from women attending his clinic for fertility treatments. Twenty-two clinics in the UK are licensed to freeze eggs in the UK, but donated eggs are scarce. Some clinics offer 'egg-sharing' schemes, where a woman who needs fertility treatment receives it at a reduced price in return for donating some of her eggs to another woman or couple. But egg-sharing usually involves the synchronisation of the two women's cycles and the use of fresh, rather than frozen, eggs. The main reason that egg freezing is used is for women about to undergo a medical procedure that might affect their fertility. It was only in 2001 that the first birth using a frozen-thawed human egg was achieved.

The egg bank has already received a lot of criticism. The UK's General Medical Council (GMC) said that not enough was known about the procedure, or about human development, to be assured that 'a potential health time bomb was not being produced'. Professor Lord Robert Winston, a fertility expert, said that the project 'stinks', adding that it 'is generally dangerous. There is no evidence that egg freezing is safe'. However, Dr Gill Lockwood, director of a Midlands fertility clinic and chairman of the British Fertility Society's ethics committee, said that she is 'happy with the concept of egg freezing'. But, she added, 'the success rate with fresh eggs is significantly greater than with frozen and I would be unhappy to reduce the chance of success using this precious resource by freezing eggs'.

Taranissi claims that couples who opt to use eggs from the egg bank will have almost a 50 per cent chance of conceiving each time they undergo treatment. 'There is a misconception that egg freezing doesn't work', he said, adding 'I disagree. If you freeze good quality eggs, you can do very well with them'.

First human egg bank opens...despite fertility expert's warning over danger of genetic defects
The Mail on Sunday |  28 November 2004
23 September 2013 - by Rosie Beauchamp 
The UK's first dedicated egg bank for fertility treatment has been launched in London....
9 January 2006 - by BioNews 
A UK fertility expert has said that within ten years, a significant proportion of young British women will be cryopreserving their eggs in order to stave off infertility while delaying motherhood. Dr Simon Fishel, director of the Centre for Assisted Reproduction (CARE) in Nottingham, said at a media briefing at...
13 October 2005 - by BioNews 
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...
6 July 2005 - by BioNews 
A baby girl who spent 13 years as an embryo frozen at -235C has been born in California. The birth of Laina Beasley set a new medical record in fertility treatment, as the longest time an embryo has been frozen and born healthy. Laina's birth beat all the odds, overcoming...
31 May 2005 - by BioNews 
Scientists from the University of Michigan, US, have developed a new egg freezing technique that may improve the chances of women who want to have children following treatment for cancer. Treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy can render a woman infertile, so researchers have been looking at ways to preserve...
5 November 2003 - by BioNews 
Research published last week shows that women who take part in egg sharing programmes when they undergo fertility treatment do not compromise their own chance of having a baby. When a woman agrees to egg sharing, half of the eggs collected in one of her cycles are donated to another...
12 May 2003 - by BioNews 
A London fertility clinic has attracted criticism over its scheme offering women free IVF treatment in return for donating their eggs. Speaking at a conference last week, the scientific director of London's Cromwell IVF and Fertility Clinic, Dr Kamal Ahuja, said that the practice cut 'gross wastage' of eggs in...
12 May 2003 - by Juliet Tizzard 
According to news reports at the end of last week, a row has erupted over a scheme called egg sharing which is offered at a number of fertility clinics in the United Kingdom. Under the egg sharing scheme, women who need IVF are offered a free or discounted cycle of...
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