China sets up bank to freeze eggs of women cancer patients

Updated: Dec 26, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Shanghai: China will set up an egg bank for women suffering from cancer to store their ovum in freezer so they can have babies before undergoing chemotherapy or a surgery, which could damage their reproductive ability.

The authority has plans to set up the bank in three years, China Daily reported, quoting the Shanghai Morning Post.

The bank would primarily offer an ovum-freezing service to women who have been diagnosed with cancer, to be used before chemotherapy or surgery could harm their ovaries and eggs, said Di Wen, head of the obstetrics and gynaecology department of Shanghai Jiaotong University-affiliated Renji Hospital.

After having their healthy eggs frozen and stored, these women may have a chance to have babies in the future, he said.

An egg, which normally dies within 10 hours after being removed from the womb, can be preserved for at least a decade after being submerged in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees Celsius temperature.

The bank would also help to preserve eggs of women who choose to delay their pregnancy due to career and those suffering from infertility.

According to Di, although sperm-freezing technologies are quite advanced around the world, egg freezing is much more difficult and there have been fewer than 10 babies born successfully from frozen eggs in Shanghai.

Experts agree that the practice still faces many hurdles, such as the low success rate of impregnation after the frozen eggs are thawed. It is still not clear whether babies born from the technology are healthy or not.

Shanghai established a sperm bank six years ago, where donated sperm could help men with infertility problems produce babies.

Around 10 percent of the Chinese population are experiencing problems in having children, said Li.

IANS