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IVM: British Mother Births Twins After New Treatment
These are the first babies in Britain to be conceived using a pioneering technique which is a safer, cheaper and more convenient form of IVF.
Twins Ilia and Isabella Milkovic were born after their mother was treated using a new procedure called In Vitro Maturation, or IVM. And their birth brings new hope for the growing numbers of couples seeking help to conceive.
Ilia and Isabella’s mother Tina, 30, had been told she could not conceive naturally because she had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), cysts on the ovaries which can affect fertility.
But now Tina and her husband Joe, 45, have spoken of their joy to be parents of twins after they chanced upon the Oxford Fertility Unit on the internet – which led to Tina becoming the first woman in the country to undergo IVM successfully.
In IVF – used by 30,000 couples a year in Britain, with about a 36 per cent success rate – women are injected with powerful hormonal drugs to stimulate the ovaries and mature the eggs before they are removed and fertilised in the laboratory.
The resulting embryos are then replanted back into the body. One IVF cycle costs around £4,500 – £3,000 for treatment and a further £1,500 for the drugs. But IVM means women do not need to use the drugs, because the procedure involves removing the eggs first and then maturing them in the laboratory before they are fertilised and put back into the womb.
They also have to attend a fertility clinic only twice – once to retrieve the eggs and again to have the embryos implanted.
And the drugs required cost only £95. Historically, success rates for IVM have been lower than IVF, but the IVM team at Oxford Fertility Unit has revealed it is achieving success rates of between 35 and 38 per cent.
It is thought to be particularly successful for women diagnosed with PCOS. Around one in ten women, including Victoria Beckham and Sophie Wessex, are thought to have the condition and are more likely to develop a rare but potentially fatal condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) as a result of IVF drugs.
Tina and Joe, a mortgage broker from Oxford, had reservations about using IVF because of the risk of OHSS – and going into the record books was the last thing on their minds when they approached the Oxford unit.
‘We didn’t think about being the first,’ she said. ‘I craved being a mother. I was desperate to have children and when you are told the chances are you can’t, it becomes even more desperate.'
After the treatment, the couple did a pregnancy test. ‘We were so excited,’ Tina said. ‘There had been times when I thought I would never see a positive test.’
Then, when they saw the unit’s director, gynaecologist Tim Child for a scan, he told them: ‘I’ve got good news. In fact, I’ve got doubly good news. I’ve got two heart beats.’ Tina said: ‘We thought, “What? Are we dreaming? Are you sure?” I just cried. It was such a shock.
‘Mr Child ran out of the room to tell a colleague about the success. Then we realised this was a big deal. The excitement on his face made us realise we really were the first people in the UK to get pregnant in this way.’
The twins were born on October 18, 2007, by caesarean at 38 weeks. Ilia, the older by one minute, weighed in at a healthy 6lb 11oz, while his sister came in at 5lb 14oz.
‘It was amazing to see them for the first time. We were ecstatic,’ said Tina. ‘Mr Child described it as a dream come true.’
Of 65 couples who have been treated using IVM at the Oxford clinic, ten babies have been born – including the twins – and a further ten couples are pregnant. Around 1,000 IVM babies have now been born worldwide.
Mr Child said: ‘It’s cheaper, quicker and safer than IVF and it shows the UK can compete with cutting-edge medicine.’