As part of The Queen’s Green Canopy seven lime trees have been planted at Bourn Hall Cambridge, one for each decade and each dedicated to a milestone in IVF – one of the greatest scientific and medical achievements made during The Queen’s reign.
Tree 4 – Birth from a frozen blastocyst (embryo)
Lizzie planted the fourth tree with Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, Bourn Hall’s CEO and Medical Director, to celebrate advances in freezing. The first baby from a frozen blastocyst (five day embryo) was born in 1985.
In the early days of IVF, pioneering work at Bourn Hall helped to introduce new IVF techniques, including the introduction of embryo freezing. This has meant that embryos not immediately required for a fresh cycle of treatment can be frozen and used for further treatment or siblings. This reduces the amount of medication (and cost) and success rates are high.
Lizzie was born after a ‘freeze all’ cycle, which is when all the embryos are frozen to allow the body to recover from stimulation.
It is also possible to freeze embryos ahead of cancer treatment or other medical procedure that may affect your fertility.
Thought I was still dreaming
Elizabeth (Lizzie) from Norfolk was born after NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall, just a few days before her mum’s 40th birthday. Her parents, Jessica and Marc, had been trying to have a baby for ten years, and Lizzie was born after a ‘freeze-all’ treatment. She was named after Jessica’s mum who passed away suddenly.
“I really did feel as though my body clock was ticking,” says Jessica, who has PCOS, a common cause of fertility issues in women. “I had begun to think that perhaps being a mum just wasn’t going to happen for me. Over the years I used to have dreams sometimes that I had a baby and would wake up and it wasn’t true. After Lizzie was born it took me a while to realise that I wasn’t still dreaming.”