The first twins born from frozen sperm and from frozen embryos in Britain were revealed in January 2001. Stephen Mercer, the father, was infertile after earlier cancer treatment, having been diagnosed with a lymph cancer in 1987 at the age of nineteen. As a precaution, and prior to treatment, he had had his sperm stored in a liquid nitrogen system. This sperm was retrieved some eleven years later, and was then thawed and used to fertilise his wife’s eggs via intracytoplasmic sperm-injection (ICSI) as part on an IVF programme.
Because his wife, Helen Mercer, had an over reaction to fertility drugs, the team from St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, UK, felt that waiting some months would improve the chances of successful implantation.
Accordingly the embryo blastocysts were frozen in a Planer controlled rate freezer and stored cryogenically for four months before their successful implantation. Greg Horne, senior embryologist, felt that it would have been unwise to implant the embryos at once so they had to be frozen. The twins Abigail and Gabrielle are now eighteen months old.