Dr. Elyes Mokadem, a Tunisian specialist in reproductive biology, has announced the birth of the first baby in Tunisia to be conceived through a revolutionary new procedure know as embryo vitrification.
The baby – a boy weighing 3.15 kg and measuring 48 cm – was delivered yesterday by Dr. Murad Kammoun, a gynecologist at the Clinique Al Alia in Sfax. It is only the second time in the Arab world that a healthy baby has been born through this procedure.
Vitrification allows doctors to rapidly freeze embryos which can later be implanted in the womb. This allows embryos that are created but not immediately inseminated to be stored rather than destroyed. The process involves removing much of the water in the embryo’s cells before immersing it in liquid nitrogen – in effect snap freezing the embryo. This procedure avoids the problem of ice crystallization which would destroy the embryo and make it unusable. It also vastly increases the chances of conception, according to Dr. Mokadem.
Embryo vitrification represents a major step forward for public health in Tunisia since it will substantially reduce costs in comparison to the classic in-vitro techniques, making it possible for many more people who face difficulty conceiving to have a baby.