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First frozen egg baby born in Canada

he MUHC is pioneering a revolutionary new freezing technique, which has dramatically increased egg survival rate. Human eggs are very fragile and have high water content. Conventional methods of freezing have been relatively unsuccessful because they allow the formation of ice crystals, damaging the cells and rendering the egg unusable. This problem has now been resolved by a new method of rapid freezing called vitrification developed at McGill by Dr. Ri-Cheng Chian, Scientific Director of the McGill Reproductive Centre at the MUHC and Dr. Tan. Each egg extracted from the ovaries of the patient is drawn into a protective device, invented by Drs. Chian and Tan, called a "Cryoleaf", and then placed in a special vitrification solution. The eggs undergo super-rapid cooling at a rate of more than 20,000ºC per minute, which prevents ice crystal formation and increases egg survival to approximately 90%. The frozen eggs can then be safely stored in the Cryoleaf until it is ready for use, at which point it is carefully thawed, then fertilized.

To date, 15 patients at the McGill Reproductive Centre have had embryo transfer produced from vitrified eggs, resulting in 7 pregnancies including this livebirth. "The results are particularly encouraging because this success rate is comparable to regular IVF cycles with ICSI using fresh eggs in many IVF centres," says Dr. Tan.

Egg freezing is useful for a number of reasons. "The process enables young women diagnosed with cancer to preserve their fertility before undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which can cause infertility and premature menopause," says Dr. Lucy Gilbert, Director of Gynecological Oncology at the MUHC. Over the past two years, 16 cancer patients have had their eggs frozen at the MUHC. "Egg freezing also allows young women who wish to delay childbearing to do so safely," notes Dr. Tan. After 30 years of age, a woman's fertility declines and the rate of spontaneous abortion increases significantly
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Source:McGill University


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