Putting hope for motherhood on ice: Mothers freeze own eggs for infertile daughters

At least six British mothers have frozen their eggs so their infertile daughters can use them to give birth to their half brothers or sisters.

The women want to give their daughters, who have medical conditions which prevent them from producing eggs of their own, the chance to become mothers.

The mother-to-daughter egg donation has been made possible by advances in freezing technology that enable eggs to be stored long enough for the child to use them. Once the daughters reach adulthood, conventional in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can then be used to allow their husbands to inseminate the eggs before implantation.

Some doctors say mothers should now be encouraged to freeze their eggs for their daughters’ use as soon as the offspring are diagnosed with conditions such as Turner syndrome, where sufferers lack ovaries.

The mothers only have a short period in which they can make the donation to their daughters because, by the time they reach the age of 40, their eggs are likely to be of too poor quality to store. Frozen eggs for donation can only be kept for 10 years in UK. If the mother’s eggs were frozen when the girl is very young, her daughter will have to use the eggs before she is ready to be a mother. These cases have caused some to call for a change in the law.

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’. Their MP, Andrew Stunell, who has also raised the issue in the House of Commons, is supporting the family’s cause. Mr Stunell is considering tabling an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which is in the process of being debated in Parliament.

The plans for women to give birth to their half siblings have, however, been criticised by some ethicists who fear that it could cause the daughters psychological problems, while the resulting children could be confused about their relationship to their mother and grandmother. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: “The child could feel a crisis of identity trying to work out their relationship with relatives.” But fertility doctors say many women would prefer to have a child with a genetic link.

Posted by : Goral Gandhi, MSc,

                   Laboratory Director,

                   Rotunda – Center for Human Reproduction (Pvt) Ltd

 

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