By Teresa Tanoos
Two doctors in Indianapolis have developed a new process for freezing and storing human eggs for reproductive purposes.
This incredible scientific breakthrough will revolutionize egg storage and fertilization throughout the world. For young women who have just found out that they will need to undergo radiation treatment or chemotherapy, as well as for women who have chosen to climb the corporate ladder during their prime childbearing years, this reproductive breakthrough is incredibly significant.
In 1979, Donald L. Cline, M.D. founded Reproductive Endocrinology Associates in Indianapolis, Indiana. Reproductive Endocrinology Associates is a full service infertility facility providing comprehensive, specialized care for infertility and reproductive medicine including IVF (in vitro fertilization). Dr. Cline is recognized as a pioneer in the field of reproductive medicine, charting new paths for couples frustrated by the challenge of infertility.
Dr. Cline’s Christian beliefs led him to develop, in collaboration with Dr. Jeffery Boldt, Ph.D., a colleague at Community North Hospital in Indianapolis, a new method for storing frozen unfertilized human eggs for future use. When many eggs are obtained during an IVF procedure, most centers are now fertilizing all of the eggs. Only two or three embryos (fertilized eggs) are transferred back into the patients’ uterus, and the remaining embryos are frozen for future use. However, most couples do not use all of their embryos and they remain in storage until they are eventually discarded. It is estimated that there are over one million frozen embryos worldwide and most will be discarded.
For Dr. Cline, discarding fertilized embryos was a significant theological and moral problem. At Reproductive Endocrinology Associates, the belief is held that life begins at conception and, therefore, a new method for doing IVF was needed. Attempts at freezing unfertilized eggs, eventually thawing them, fertilizing them with the husband’s sperm, and then transferring the embryos derived from these frozen eggs to the uterus for a successful pregnancy, have been tried for years. Most attempts were unsuccessful, as the eggs did not survive the freeze-thaw process. Undeterred, Drs. Cline and Boldt persisted in developing a groundbreaking new method for freezing and storing human eggs that has been successful.
In late 2000, the first pregnancy from a frozen egg was announced, and Emma was born in July, 2001. Since then, Drs. Cline and Boldt, working through the Community Health Network at Community North Hospital, have realized numerous pregnancies and many babies have now been born—including two sets of twins! Moreover, with this innovative procedure, if frozen eggs are no longer wanted, they may be discarded without any moral or ethical issues.
The success enjoyed by realizing pregnancies and babies from frozen eggs has led to the idea of “fertility preservation”. If a woman is to be treated for cancer by chemotherapy or radiation and the ovaries will be permanently damaged as a result, Reproductive Endocrinology Associates can offer hope! In less than thirty days, eggs can be stimulated to develop in the ovaries and egg retrieval as an outpatient can be performed. Then cryopreservation of the eggs can be done prior to initiating cancer therapy. As far as it is known, there is no limit to the length of time that eggs can be frozen, then thawed and successfully fertilized in vitro.
There is another important reason to offer fertility preservation. Many women would like to become pregnant, but their current circumstances or “life situation” does not allow for pregnancy. These situations may include not being married, career requirements, or educational commitments. Again, in less than thirty days, eggs can be stimulated, retrieved, and stored frozen. These eggs do not “age” while in frozen storage and therefore the risk of Down’s syndrome and other genetic abnormalities should remain at the same level as the woman’s age at the time of retrieval—and not at the patient’s age when the eggs are eventually fertilized.
If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition or are otherwise in a situation where fertility preservation may be for you, call Reproductive Endocrinology Associates at 317-872-1515.
Dr. Donald Cline is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. He also serves as a volunteer Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. To learn more, you can call Dr. Cline at 317-872-1515.
To watch Dr. Cline in a Healthy Living TV segment, click on the link below: