Those patients that have been diagnosed with cancer and need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy are faced with several emotional and physical challenges. One of them, especially among young women, is preservation of their reproductive potentials. This is one of the first questions they address to their caring physicians. It is a rather pressing problem since no significant time is left for patients to exercise any available options. It becomes even more difficult if the young patient is not in a relationship to undergo a conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF) and have the resulting embryos cryopreserved for an embryo transfer (ET) after the cancer therapy is completed.

Cryopreservation of sperm has been available for several decades, but not until recently was oocyte cryopreservation possible. The START program at DVIF&G has introduced oocyte cryopreservation for those patients that are undergoing cancer therapy as an option to preserve their reproductive potentials.

Until recently, the ability to freeze unfertilized eggs, also known as cryopreservation, was not an option for patients. The delicate characteristics of the human oocyte (the early female reproductive cell) were such that attempts to cryopreserve eggs and subsequently thaw, fertilize, and implant them in the uterus were unsuccessful. Cryopreservation was restricted to semen and embryos. Fortunately our knowledge of oocyte physiology and laboratory techniques is improving, making the technology required for oocyte freezing a reality.

Christopher Chen, M.D. of Singapore was the first to report a pregnancy originating from frozen/thawed oocytes in 1986. Until 1995 there were only 5 reported births. Now over 100 live births have been reported, and the number continues to grow as more women consider this option as a means of assisted reproduction. At DVIF&G, we are working with cancer patients to preserve their reproductive potential by freezing their unfertilized eggs. It is very fulfilling to help these women who are fighting cancer to keep their dream of motherhood alive. That’s our dream too. The cornerstone of the DVIF&G philosophy is that the patient deserves individual evaluation and the best personalized care available.

During the last decade, the DVIF&G staff has worked incessantly to improve the environment for its patients, increase its success rates, and introduce new therapeutic techniques in Southern New Jersey. This effort has placed DVIF&G and its START program as a premier fertility center in the country and has made it the referral center of choice for doctor and patient alike.

For more information about any of the programs offered at DVIF&G and the START program in Lawrenceville, please contact Jessica A. Macdonald, DVIF&G’s Supervisor of Reproductive Laboratories,at 609-895-0088 or e-mail her at For more on DVIF&G, please visit

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