Twins born from frozen eggs give new hope

June 21, 2010 4:57:58 PM PDT
Cancer treatments often rob young people of their fertility. For men, it's long been possible to freeze and thaw sperm before cancer treatments. But freezing eggs hasn't worked -- until now. This story of newborn twins gives hope to women waiting for the day when human eggs can be frozen and successfully thawed.

Five-pound Alba and four-pound Joseph are a gift to their doting parents, Yvonne and Chris Pena.

"I just feel complete," Chris Pena said.

They're also the subjects in a national medical study.

Alba and Joseph are the first babies born in Texas from frozen human eggs.

"It's something you can't even fathom," Yvonne Pena said. "You think about it and you think, wow, they were frozen! But they're here now."

Alba and Joseph were conceived by freezing Yvonne Pena's eggs, and thawing them before doing IVF. It's a big deal because eggs are hard to freeze. Ice crystals form inside and shatter them.

But with this new freezing technology, 100 percent of Yvonne Pena's eggs survived. That's good news for lots of reasons.

"It removes so many of the ethical dilemmas that you have with fertilizing eggs and having embryos and having them frozen and not know exactly what to do with them," Dr. Timothy Hickman said.

Besides the ethical issues, it's an important option for young women with cancer, like Meredith Stedham. Before her cancer treatments, which leave women infertile, Meredith froze her eggs just like Yvonne Pena.

"There is hope. There is absolutely hope," Stedham said. Yvonne, who works with cancer patients, wanted to help. That's why she and her husband agreed to be a part of Hickman's study on human egg freezing.

"If it doesn't work, it wasn't meant to be, but if it does, then it's not only for us but for a lot of people in the future," Yvonne Pena said.


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