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Twins Born From Eggs Implanted in Woman With Early Menopause

Times Staff Writer

A Garden Grove fertility expert Thursday delivered the world’s first twins born from donor eggs, which were implanted in a woman who was infertile because of premature menopause.

Dr. Ricardo Asch, in a telephone interview from Brownsville Medical Center in Texas, said the twin girls were born to a 32-year-old woman who went through menopause at age 20.

Using a technique he pioneered, Asch nine months ago took the donor eggs, mixed them with the sperm of the woman’s husband and injected the mixture into the woman’s Fallopian tubes, where the fertilization process is allowed to occur naturally.

It was the second time a prematurely menopausal woman has become pregnant with Asch’s technique, called Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer, or GIFT. The first gave birth to a healthy, full-term boy last summer in Houston. These are the only three births in the United States from donated eggs, using any technique, Asch said.

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Fertilization Technique

Elsewhere in the world, there have been about a dozen births using donated eggs. But all others have involved fertilizing the ovum with the husband’s sperm in a laboratory dish, then days later implanting a tiny embryo into the woman’s uterus.

The GIFT technique is primarily used to treat women who are producing their own eggs but for a number of reasons are unable to become pregnant. Using the technique, doctors harvest eggs from the woman’s ovaries, mix them with her husband’s sperm, and then immediately inject them through a catheter into the woman’s Fallopian tubes. About 1,000 infertile couples worldwide have been treated with the GIFT technique, and approximately one-third of them have conceived.

So far, Asch and his assistant, Dr. Jose Balmaceda, have attempted the GIFT technique with donated eggs only twice, with a 100% success rate. The technique requires extensive hormone shots to replace what a menopausal woman cannot produce.

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The twins delivered by Caesarean section Thursday in Brownsville were carried to full term and weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and 6 pounds, 8 ounces, Asch said. Despite their unconventional conception, “it was a regular delivery of twins,” who showed “excellent” vital signs at birth, he said. “They are beautiful, normal babies.”

Asch declined to identify the parents, who live in Tampico, Mexico, where they have a coffee factory.


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