LIFESTYLE

Breakthrough IVF A Success As Woman Gives Birth To A Baby Girl

14/06/2013 15:08 BST | Updated 14/06/2013 15:47 BST
PA

The first woman to conceive using a breakthrough IVF technique has given birth to a baby girl.

Eva was born in Glasgow on Tuesday thanks to the cutting-edge early embryo viability assessment (Eeva).

The three-day-old visited staff at the Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine (GCRM) today with her parents, Susan Walker-Dempster and David Dempster.

The clinic's medical director, Dr Marco Gaudoin, described Eeva as "probably the most important development in IVF in the past five years".

Eeva uses time-lapse imaging to monitor embryos while they are being incubated, and then uses computer software to select the best embryos at low risk of defects.

Pictures taken at five-minute intervals by the computer tell embryologists which embryos are best and most likely to deliver a full pregnancy.

In standard IVF, embryos are removed from the incubator once a day to be checked under the microscope.

The Eeva system is similar to time-lapse imaging used by other fertility clinics, but it produces images every five minutes as opposed to every 10 to 20 minutes and the results are analysed by computer rather than a clinician.

ivf

The first baby to be born through the Eeva process arrived to delighted parents Ruth Cater and John Traverse in Liverpool late last month, but the girl was a premature birth.

The Dempsters, who are celebrating the birth of their first child together, were the first to conceive under the technique in September last year even though they did not know the full details of the Eeva process.

Mrs Dempster said: "We came to GCRM and were asked by the embryologist if we wanted to use this Eeva system just before I went into theatre.

"So we didn't actually read all the information as you should, but it's not intrusive and we thought it wouldn't do any harm so we signed up for it thinking we were one of the first, and here we are today with Eva."

The couple told only their parents that they were using the new treatment, which was developed at Stanford University in the US.

Mrs Walker-Dempster, 35, said: "Our parents knew about the treatment but not many of our other friends and family did. They know we used GCRM but they didn't know we were among the first to use Eeva and the significance of the birth in terms of the new programme."

ivf

The Dempsters had always planned to call their baby Eva if it was a girl and said she is not named after the new IVF treatment.

"It's a total coincidence," Mrs Walker-Dempster said.

"Before I was pregnant, and probably before we even came to GCRM, we spoke about child names and it was Eva for a girl and Max for a boy.

"I like short names and at 20 weeks, when we found out it was a girl, we thought 'There's Eva'. It's significant and nice that it all fits in together but it was always our first choice."

The GCRM clinic is the first in Scotland, and only the second in Europe, to adopt the test and make it available to patients.

It is hoped the use of the test will increase the chances of success for women undergoing IVF.

Dr Gaudoin said: "Previously we haven't had the technology to tell us when cell divisions happen. Eeva now gives us that ability.

"The embryos never leave the incubator, which in itself is probably a good thing, but a computer takes an image every five minutes, puts together a time-lapse video and the computer determines when the cells divide.

"The timings are crucial and within very set parameters so, if the timings are out with those, it gives the computer an idea that, despite looking good, actually it isn't good because the timings are out.

"I think this is the biggest development in IVF over the last five years, there's no question about that.

"It's made the process much more objective; as an example, traditionally if you had 12 good-looking embryos, statistically only four of them would be good and an embryologist would have a one in three chance of picking a good embryo.

"With Eeva, what it's giving you is a one in one chance of picking the best embryo, so it's a huge step forward."

Data is still being collected from trials of the technique and it comes at a price for patients, who pay £850 extra on top of the £4,000 cost of IVF treatment.

Dr Gaudoin said: "I'm involved with IVF both because of the reproductive and scientific side of things but also because of the joy and the heartache and it's all part of being a doctor and how you help couples.

"We went with the Eeva system because it had a scientific hypothesis behind it which was rigorously tested.

"It cost us a lot of money to invest in it but we thought it was the right thing to go for and we've been very encouraged with what's happened so far."