Canada mom freezes eggs so daughter can have child
TORONTO (Reuters) - A Montreal woman has frozen her eggs so they can be used by her seven-year-old daughter, who cannot have children because of a genetic condition.
Doctors at McGill University Reproductive Centre in Montreal, which has pioneered a freezing program for cancer patients and those who want to delay childbearing, say the decision by 36-year-old Melanie Boivin is unprecedented in North America and raises ethical questions.
If the girl chooses to become pregnant using her mother's eggs, she will be giving birth to her biological half-sister. Boivin will then become a mother and a grandmother.
"She is donating her eggs to help her daughter to have children. It's mother's love," Seang Lin Tan, director of the McGill Reproductive Centre and a prominent expert on infertility treatments, said in an interview on Wednesday night.
"It's like donating a kidney to your own child, nobody will have problem with that," he said.
While there are about 60 cases of women freezing their eggs in North America, mother-to-daughter donation is the first, Tan said. The case has been reviewed and endorsed by the ethical committee of the McGill University Health Centre, he said.
Tan said Boivin decided to donate her eggs after finding out that her daughter is sterile because she has Turner's syndrome, in which one of the two X chromosomes normally found in females is missing or incomplete.
The most common characteristics of Turner's syndrome, which occurs in one out of 2,500 female births, include short stature and lack of ovarian development.
"Parents are there to help (their) children, and if she would have needed anything else, an organ, a kidney, I would give it to her without hesitation," Boivin told the Globe and Mail newspaper.
She has since declined to be interviewed, saying the discussion has caused some problems for her daughter.
Boivin's eggs will be frozen for 20 to 25 years, using a freezing method called vitrification that was developed by Tan's team, and which has drastically increased the egg survival rate.
The frozen eggs are stored in a protective device until they are ready for use. Pregnancy rates with vitrification eggs are almost the same as with fresh eggs, Tan said.
It will be up to Boivin's daughter to decide whether she wants to use the frozen eggs, he said.
"It takes time for people to get used to the idea," Tan said, adding that many people disapproved of test-tube baby technology 30 years ago.
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