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Frozen Egg Donor Banks Sprout in Wake of New Technology

Orlando Sentinel,  Sept 8, 2012

You've heard about sperm banks. Now, at long last, make room for their genetic equivalents: egg donor banks.

After years of failed attempts to effectively freeze donor eggs, a revolutionary technology has finally fine-tuned the process, giving birth to a cottage industry of banks with a growing national catalog of healthy donor eggs.

But a revolutionary freezing technology called vitrification has allowed IVF specialists to freeze healthy eggs at a fraction of the time, half the cost and about the same success rate of the more laborious fresh egg donation process.

The revolution came in the move away from the old technology, which used a slow freeze and thaw cycle on the fragile, small, single-cell eggs. That machinery-assisted process tended to leave ice crystals in the eggs, rupturing them or breaking the sensitive chromosomal spindles in the thaw.

With vitrification, which uses no machines, the eggs are coated in a solution and dipped into liquid nitrogen, creating a fast freeze that has over time shown itself as both durable and effective. Several studies have shown that women who receive frozen donor eggs are just as likely to have a baby as women given fresh donor eggs.

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