A New Era of In Vitro
A local couple reaches a milestone in reproductive science, pointing the way toward a whole new future.
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That turned out to be the case for Francine, who gave birth to her first daughter, Isabelle, in 2007, after more than three years of trying to become pregnant. Early attempts at artificial insemination failed. So did several efforts at IVF using Francine’s own eggs. The Simpsons’ last chance at having a child of their own was IVF using a donor egg.
Isabelle arrived strong and healthy. A year later, Francine and Rob were ready for a second child. The Simpsons returned to Feinberg, hoping to duplicate their success, but there were complications.
“The donor—it was the same as our first child—wasn’t producing enough eggs,” Francine says. So the Simpsons purchased frozen eggs from Cryo Eggs International. The first frozen donor egg bank, Cryo Eggs is still one of only three in the world.
“Our main reason for using frozen eggs was that we knew the eggs were viable at the time they were frozen, and the whole process would be faster,” Francine says—two months instead of the three to six typical with fresh eggs.
Use of frozen eggs has several other advantages, Portmann says. There’s no need to coordinate the woman’s cycles, the donor no longer needs to travel to the recipient’s location and, as egg banks become more prevalent, the recipient will be able to choose from a larger number of donors.
IVF is expensive, but egg banks allow costs such as donor compensation, medical insurance, and genetic and psychological evaluations to be shared by several recipients. Reproductive Biology Egg Bank reports that frozen donor eggs can be provided to recipients at about half the cost of fresh egg cycles.
Frozen egg banks could also have benefits for society, proponents say. Many times a donor produces 15 to 20 eggs, far more than a recipient needs. Some couples choose to create and freeze extra embryos for use later. Other times, excess eggs go to waste.
Through an egg bank, a donor could provide eggs for three infertile women instead of one, Feinberg says. Routine freezing also could decrease the number of excess embryos that are frozen, thus obviating some moral issues, as well as the legal wrangling over the embryos that can take place when couples divorce, Tucker says.
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