By Steve Uyehara – bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - His amazing story will provide hope for many women hoping to one day have children. Dylan Helgen is the first Hawaii baby born using frozen, unfertilized eggs. It's a new process that will help women with cancer and those who want to delay childbirth.
Elizabeth and Stephen Helgen were more than happy to introduce their son Dylan to the world. For awhile, they thought this moment might never come.
"I would call it a miracle.Yeah" said Elizabeth Helgen.
Elizabeth had her tubes tied when she was 22. She had already had two sons and didn't want any more children. 19 years later the Kauai native changed her mind, but she had no idea what she had in store.
"It was a lot of stress, a lot of emotion, and at one point we just stopped the whole process because we couldn't handle the stress and emotion anymore."
There were tests, shots, bills, traveling to and from Oahu, but they stuck with it. And this April, Dylan was born.
This was all made possible by a new system of freezing called vitrification." After eggs are collected, doctors pull all the water out of them. That way the eggs don't crystallize during freezing, which causes irreversible damage.
When the eggs are re-hydrated, doctors will fertilize them themselves and then the rest of the in vitro process is the same. Doctors are now able to save 95% of the eggs that they do freeze.
"I'd say the pregnancy rate using frozen eggs is not quite that using fresh eggs. But they're approaching that, maybe in the next several years. As additional incremental improvements in the procedure continue, the rate should approach that of fresh eggs" said Dr. Thomas Huang, PhD Laboratory Director.
600 babies have been born worldwide using this process, 200 in the United States. Doctors can now remove eggs from women with cancer and freeze them, keeping them safe from the radiation involved in chemotherapy.
It's also beneficial for women who are waiting to find a male partner or women who accept donor eggs, but are not ready to become pregnant.
But no matter what Dylan's birth means to everyone else, Mom's just happy that he's healthy and happy.
"He was smiling early. He started cooing to us when he was six weeks old. Then he started looking around, following things at two months" said Helgen.
As for the cost, doctors say insurance will cover the majority of the in vitro process, which can cost anywhere between $8,000 and $13,000. Freezing and storing the eggs can cost another $1,300.