Cou­ples find hope in frozen em­bryos

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By WANG XIAODONG in Bei­jing and QI XIN in Zhengzhou Con­tact the writ­ers at qixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Liu Yang, from Xuchang, He­nan prov­ince, had her first child when she was 26.

“I wanted to have a sec­ond baby very much, but I did not be­cause of the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy then,” Liu said.

Now that all Chi­nese cou­ples are al­lowed to have a sec­ond child, un­der a re­vised na­tional pol­icy adopted at the end of last year, Liu’s longheld wish has been re­vived.

This time, how­ever, Liu, now 42, has to turn to in vitro fer­til­iza­tion to have another baby.

She started an IVF pro­ce­dure at He­nan Pro­vin­cial Peo­ple’s Hos­pi­tal in Zhengzhou, cap­i­tal of He­nan, late last year. But she did not be­come preg­nant after the im­plant of an em­bryo de­vel­oped from her egg and her hus­band’s sperm, she said.

She kept the other em­bryos de­vel­oped dur­ing the pro­ce­dure frozen in the hos­pi­tal for fu­ture use.

“Right now, ev­ery­thing is OK,” she said. “I will be fol­low­ing the doc­tor’s ad­vice, and now I am pre­par­ing to have one of the em­bryos re­vived to have another im­plant.”

Like Liu, an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese cou­ples are re­turn­ing to hos­pi­tals across the coun­try to use their frozen em­bryos to have another baby, now that the sec­ond-child pol­icy al­lows them to do so.

“With the adop­tion of the univer­sal sec­ond-child pol­icy, the num­ber of pa­tients to the cen­ter has been in­creas­ing,” said Wang Lu, a doc­tor at the re­pro­duc­tive medicine depart­ment of He­nan Pro­vin­cial Peo­ple’s Hos­pi­tal. “Some­times we re­ceive about 500 pa­tients a day, and about a third of them are seek­ing the em­bryos they have kept here for im­plant surgery.”

Zhang Cuil­ian, direc­tor of the depart­ment, said doc­tors usu­ally ac­quire more than one egg from a pa­tient dur­ing

Yang Dong­ping,

pub­lic­ity chief of Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity Third Hos­pi­tal an IVF pro­ce­dure, so usu­ally sev­eral em­bryos can be de­vel­oped for im­plan­ta­tion into a pa­tient’s womb.

After one or two em­bryos are trans­planted, the oth­ers will be frozen in spe­cial fa­cil­i­ties so they can be re­vived for use in the fu­ture if the first im­plant surgery fails, she said.

“The (preg­nancy) suc­cess rate of im­plant surg­eries of frozen em­bryos is about 60 per­cent, sim­i­lar to that of fresh em­bryos,” Zhang said. “Based on the cur­rent tech­nolo­gies, em­bryos can be pre­served for many years, and there is no ex­pi­ra­tion date.”

In June in Jiangsu prov­ince, a 45-year-old woman gave birth to a healthy baby after be­ing im­planted with an em­bryo of hers that was fer­til­ized 18 years ago and had been kept at the Ob­stet­rics and Gy­ne­col­ogy Hos­pi­tal of Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity, Shang­hai, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

Yin Baoli, another doc­tor at He­nan Pro­vin­cial Peo­ple’s Hos­pi­tal, said the num­ber of frozen em­bryos kept at the hos­pi­tal has in­creased to about 100,000 since the depart­ment was es­tab­lished in 2001. The to­tal num­ber of frozen em­bryos kept in all five ma­jor hos­pi­tals cer­ti­fied for as­sisted re­pro­duc­tive tech­nolo­gies in Zhengzhou is es­ti­mated at 400,000, she said.

“Last year, about 2,800 frozen em­bryos were ac­ti­vated for IVF pro­ce­dures,” Yin said. “The num­ber is ex­pected to in­crease to be­tween 3,000 and 3,500 this year.”

At Bei­jing Ob­stet­rics and Gy­ne­col­ogy Hos­pi­tal, more than 2,000 frozen em­bryos had been re­vived for IVF surg­eries in the first eight months of the year, an in­crease of 50 per­cent year-on-year, said Chao Wei, the hos­pi­tal’s pub­lic­ity chief.

“The num­ber of pa­tients seek­ing ad­vice sud­denly in­creased at the end of last year,” said Lan Yonglian, deputy direc­tor of the hos­pi­tal’s re­pro­duc­tive medicine depart­ment.

“Many cou­ples who had IVF surg­eries be­fore have con­tacted us ask­ing whether their em­bryos are well kept,” she said.

The hos­pi­tal charges 1,000 yuan ($150) per year to each pa­tient who keeps em­bryos in the hos­pi­tal to cover the preser­va­tion ex­penses, she said.

Yang Dong­ping, pub­lic­ity chief of Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity Third Hos­pi­tal, said the hos­pi­tal has also wit­nessed an in­creas­ing num­ber of frozen em­bryos be­ing used since late last year.

“The new pol­icy has def­i­nitely spurred much de­mand, and doc­tors at our re­pro­duc­tive medicine depart­ment are very busy,” he added.

The in­fer­til­ity rate in China has been in­creas­ing in re­cent years. The num­ber of in­fer­tile cou­ples at the op­ti­mum age for con­cep­tion in China has ex­ceeded 40 mil­lion and is still in­creas­ing, ac­count­ing for more than 12 per­cent of the group, ac­cord­ing to the China Pop­u­la­tion As­so­ci­a­tion.

The new pol­icy has def­i­nitely spurred much de­mand, and doc­tors at our re­pro­duc­tive medicine depart­ment are very busy.”

Zhou Went­ing con­trib­uted to this story.

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