A British woman has had some of her own eggs frozen for her ten-year old daughter to use in the future, as she will be rendered infertile by a genetic illness. As frozen eggs for donation can only be kept for 10 years, and the mother's eggs were frozen when the girl was only eight, her daughter will have to use the eggs before she reaches the age of 18.
The girl has Turner syndrome, where one of the two X chromosome carried by women is missing, and which almost always causes infertility, although women with the condition can conceive using donor eggs. The syndrome affects around 2,500 girls born each year. In 2005 her mother decided to freeze some eggs for her daughter, to give her the chance of having a baby genetically related to her.
The case has caused some to call for a change in the law, as the girl is unlikely to be in a position to want to have children by 18, when the eggs will have to be either used or destroyed. The mother, who is campaigning for the law to be changed, said 'I don't want to put my daughter under pressure, and I don't think she should have to make that choice at that age. We feel real sadness that, for no particularly justifiable reason, our daughter is going to be put in an impossible situation'.
Proponents of a change in the law argue that the ten year rule is arbitrary, with Gillian Lockwood, medical director of Midland Fertility Services, arguing that it has 'no scientific justification at all'. The family's cause is being supported by their MP, Andrew Stunell, who has also raised the issue in the House of Commons. Mr Stunell is considering tabling an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which is in the process of being debated in Parliament. He said, 'my constituent and her family are in a Catch-22. She faces a ten-year maximum storage period, by which time her daughter, who would be the beneficiary of the donation, would not be at an appropriate age or stage in her life'.
The Department of Health has said that the storage rule could be changed without primary legislation, and is an issue that will be considered once the new Bill has been made law. Another solution would be for the girl to have the eggs fertilised with donated sperm, and to have those embryos frozen, which could then be stored for a further 10 years.