Since the birth of the world’s first IVF baby, Louise Brown, almost 41 years ago, huge advances have been made when it comes to our fertility.

Surrogacy is no longer the stuff of science fiction. IVF is almost commonplace. And “frostie” babies are an actual reality.


Pioneers - staff are blazing a trail in fertility


When fertility clinic Bourn Hall opened its brand-new practice in Wickford, last year, it came with decades of experience in this field (the first Bourn Hall was founded in 1980 and the company has since assisted conception of more than 10,000 babies.)

But now the London Road clinic is right at the forefront of new technology - launching its advanced cryopreservation – egg freezing – service.

More than 84,000 eggs can now be frozen and stored at the facility.

The egg bank was officially opened by the world’s first frozen embryo twin Jamie Facer-Childs – born in 1987. It means there will be access to a greater diversity of donated eggs and make it easier for women facing surgery – or another life event that will impact their fertility – to freeze their own eggs and keep their chance of having a baby.

Martyn Blayney, science director at Bourn Hall, explained: “As Jamie demonstrates, we have been able to offer embryo and sperm freezing for several decades, but eggs are more delicate structures and up until now very few ‘frozen egg babies’ are born each year.

“As a result, women having treatment which might damage their ovaries such as surgery or cancer therapies are not routinely offered the chance to preserve their fertility through egg freezing.”

To mark the opening of the new facility, Bourn Hall is offering free egg freezing to women under 35 who are prepared to share some of their eggs with others.

The clinic hopes that this will also make it easier for women without a life partner to make a proactive decision while their eggs are of good quality, and also increase the diversity and supply of eggs for patients unable to conceive with their own eggs.

Mr Blayney said: “Egg sharing with fresh eggs means you need to match the donor with the recipient and synchronise the timing of their treatment.

“Having an egg bank will increase the quantity and diversity of eggs available, enabling patients who need donor eggs to have their treatment at the best time for them.

“We hope this will also reduce the number of patients having to travel abroad for donor egg treatment.”

Women who need IVF who egg share with Bourn Hall are already offered free IVF treatment.

The new service will allow women who don’t currently need treatment, but want to preserve their eggs as an insurance policy, to benefit from free freezing.

At a glance

Eggs are frozen at -196 degrees celsius using liquid nitrogen.

The low temperature means any enzymatic or chemical activity which might cause damage to the eggs is stopped.

Once frozen, eggs can remain viable for many years, with cases of live births from frozen embryos as long as 15 years after freezing.