A woman who was told she could never have children has given birth to a baby boy as a result of groundbreaking new research from the Oxford Fertility Clinic.
Ewa Wybacz and Sergio Russu, formerly from Oxford, turned to IVF in desperation, after years of trying and failing to conceive. After visiting their GP, they were referred to the Oxford Fertility Clinic and were invited to take part in an innovative method of IVF, which used a new DNA procedure to screen Wybacz’s embryos.
Ewa Wybacz, thirty-six, gave birth to her son, Biagio Russu, weighing three and a half kilograms, on January 9th of this year. Biagio is the first baby to be born in the UK from a trial of next generation sequencing (NGS) which gives IVF doctors a detailed picture of the health of an embryo’s chromosomes.
Tim Child, the medical director at Oxford Fertility, explained in an interview that NGS replaced older, less precise techniques currently used in the pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) of embryos. The NGS procedure costs between £2,000 and £3,500, on top of standard IVF fees, which is about half the price of existing screening.
To screen an embryo, doctors remove a few cells at the five-day-old stage. The cells are taken from the tissue around the embryo that will turn into the placenta that attaches it to the mother’s womb. Unlike traditional screening methods, NGS can spot embryos that have more subtle DNA flaws, and embryos that have chromosomal defects.
More than half of embryos created through IVF do not have the right number of chromosomes, with these faults accounting for nearly three-quarters of miscarriages. The NGS procedure should reduce the chances of couples having faulty embryos transferred and give them more confidence in the health of embryos they have frozen after screening.
The couple’s first cycle of IVF produced 10 embryos, but DNA screening revealed that only three of them had the normal set of chromosomes in their cells. The other seven had the wrong number of chromosomes and had little chance of producing a healthy baby.
Wyzbacz had one embryo transferred to her womb, whilst the other two healthy embryos were frozen for future use. It was the couple’s first attempt at IVF and they did not have high expectations, but then one morning, Ewa went downstairs to do a pregnancy test, and found out to the couple’s delight that it was positive.
Mr Russu told The Guardian: “To be honest I had very low expectations and I did not want to put pressure on Ewa. She had even lower expectations. We thought let’s be calm. We knew it was going to be difficult.
He added: “I thank God every day that we went to Oxford Fertility Clinic and a healthy embryo was chosen.”
Mr Russu, a scientist who now lives in Swindon with Ms Wybacz, housekeeper at Mansfield College, Oxford, said they were hoping for a larger family in the future. The parents have opted for the remaining two “super embryos” to be frozen, so Biagio might have a sibling one day.