ST. PAUL, MN--(Marketwire - Aug 22, 2012) - One of the most significant historical events in the field of in vitro fertilization (IVF) was just announced with the August 22nd live birth of twin girls whose mother was inseminated with cryopreserved sperm that was more than 40 years old. According to ReproTech, Ltd., the nation's leader in long-term cryopreservation, the previous record was 28 years for a successful live birth through cryopreserved sperm.
ReproTech reported that the sperm was originally preserved in 1971, when a Japanese American war hero -- who was unable to conceive a child with his wife, yet wanted to honor the Japanese tradition of the "first born" carrying on the family blood line -- opted to store his sperm with a sperm bank. The acting laboratory technician there was Russell Bierbaum, a young pioneer in reproductive tissue cryopreservation, who went on to co-found ReproTech.
After 40 years without a successful surrogate pregnancy, the donor's hopes were fading but he turned to the Family Formation Law Offices of Michelsen and Cohen. The firm connected the donor with a couple who was seeking pregnancy through donor sperm. In late fall of 2011, a successful pregnancy was announced and nine months later on August 22, 2012, the twin girls were delivered via C-section.
ReproTech President Bierbaum is particularly close to this case because of his early involvement. In the 40 years since, his organizations have handled much of the shipping and storage of the specimen. "What is gratifying to us," he said, "is that the systems and processes we've built over 50 years are now proven. The specimen used in this birth was collected and preserved more than 40 years ago. Since then, it has been transferred across the country four times using our shipping tanks and the procedures we designed, as well as our storage facilities. In my mind, the science of long term storage and its efficacy was never in doubt. However, maintaining the integrity and safety of the specimen through multiple shipments has never been tested to this extent."
According to Bierbaum, the length of time human reproductive tissue can be frozen and successfully used is still unknown. "Cryobiologists (scientists who study ultra-low temperature storage) have calculated that it could be several thousand years. The birth of these twins brings us one step closer to that truth."
The medical and historical ramifications of these births are significant. The more immediate and practical application for cancer patients is of particular note -- especially in the area of future fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment. "This proves that a young male can effectively store semen and confidently use it 20, 30, 40 or more years later to start a family," Bierbaum stated. "We're hoping that this kind of news will convince oncology professionals to be more proactive about discussing future fertility with their patients and begin the necessary steps to assure that the patients have been informed."
To that end, ReproTech has organized the Fertility Preservation Network to educate oncology professionals and caretakers, as well as provide the much needed cryopreservation services. The network now includes members in 33 states and the Caribbean.
ReproTech, Ltd. was founded in 1990 for the purpose of providing long-term cryostorage services and now operates cryostorage facilities in Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, and Texas. For more information, go to repotech.com or call 1-888-489-8944.