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Woman gives birth to twins conceived with 13 year-old sperm

Sarah Guy

Progress Educational Trust

17 November 2008

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[BioNews, London]

A woman in Taiwan has used the frozen sperm of her cancer-survivor husband to conceive and give birth to healthy twins. The woman's husband, surnamed Chen, was diagnosed with testicular cancer whilst studying at university aged 23. He cryogenically preserved samples of his sperm at Taipei's Medical University Hospital sperm bank, before undergoing chemotherapy which would potentially leave him infertile. Chen overcame the cancer but ceased to produce sperm. After getting married earlier this year, 36 year-old Chen and his wife decided they wanted their own child and so asked doctors to assist them using Chen's preserved sperm.

'The birth is a record in Taiwan' said Tseng Chi-jui, head of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Sciences at Taipei Medical University's College of Medicine. 'Never before has a case involving such a long period of time between the freezing of male sperm and procreation been reported in Taiwan'. 

Tseng used IVF to extract four eggs to be fertilised with Chen's unfrozen sperm and only two of the four re-implanted successfully into his wife's womb. As sperm tend to lose motility (the number of sperm active or moving) after defrosting, the fertility expert used intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) technology to ensure precise fertilisation with Mrs Chen's eggs. 

Improvements in cryogenics and assisted reproductive technologies have the potential to assist those with serious illnesses facing treatment which may render them infertile, Tseng said. Sperm cryopreservation enables such patients to 'save' their sperm for future procreation.

Mrs Chen gave birth to healthy twin boys at 37 weeks, one weighing four pounds six ounces, and the other weighing six pounds.

Earlier this year, a UK couple conceived a second baby using sperm frozen 19 years ago at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester. Emmanuel and Zoe Iyoha received IVF treatment using sperm preserved on Mr Iyoha's behalf in 1989, before he underwent successful treatment for cancer. In 2004, doctors at St Mary's hospital reported the birth of baby conceived using sperm that had been frozen for 21 years, believed to be the longest reported storage period for sperm successfully used for treatment.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 17 November 2008   Date Updated: 17 November 2008
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