"A 30-year-old woman has successfully given birth to a child using an egg she had frozen 12 years ago because she was undergoing a cancer treatment that could have made her unable to reproduce, a researcher who helped her said Friday," Kyodo reported.
In 2001 the woman, then a high school student, was suffering from malignant lymphoma, Masashige Kuwayama, a scientist at Repro-Support Medical Research Centre in Tokyo, explains. A treatment program prescribed by her doctors included tumor-fighting medicines and a bone-marrow implant. Since the drugs could negatively affect the woman's ability to reproduce, medics offered to have her eggs harvested and frozen before the cancer treatment. For 12 years, her two eggs have been stored at a Tokyo medical center, frozen with liquid nitrogen, at 196 degrees below zero.
"I'm very happy every day after giving birth to my child. I’d like all patients with blood diseases to have hope and receive treatment," the woman said as quoted by Kyodo.
It is worth mentioning that it is exceptionally rare in Japan to use eggs, which have been frozen for over ten years, for external fertilization. However, the operation has proved effective.
Earlier this year Kyodo reported that a growing number of Japanese women had become interested in preserving their eggs cryogenically, citing concerns regarding reproductive function decline and a necessity to build a career. "I want to prioritize my career right now, so egg freezing is like taking out insurance for the future," a 30-year old Japanese woman said as quoted by the media outlet.
Repro Self Bank, a Japanese private company, that started its egg-freezing program in May 2013, has already received requests from more than 500 people.
The service costs around ¥700,000 ($5,761) in Japan to store ten frozen eggs for a year, including the price for collecting the eggs for freezing. In order to extend cryopreservation by one year a woman should pay about ¥10,000 ($82.3) per egg.
"Many women have a sense of urgency, wanting to freeze their eggs right away. Considering the physical strength needed to give birth and raise a child, it is better to become pregnant by natural means before around 34 years of age," said Koichi Kyono, the head of Kyono Art Clinic.
However, experts warn women against becoming pregnant in their late age, citing potential health risks.
"Women may feel relieved by freezing their eggs, but they need to be aware that not only eggs but also the womb and veins get old. I want them to have a clear understanding of the risks involved in having their baby later in life," said Ran Kawai, a 54-year old Japanese journalist as quoted by Kyodo.