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Embryo freezing is ‘a must’, couples suffering in silence - lab director

Current restrictions 'go against fundamental rights'

The man who heads the laboratory at St James Hospital, a private clinic which offers the IVF service to couples, insisted yesterday that embryo freezing was “a must” because infertile couples were suffering in silence.

Paul Sultana, a pioneer in in vitro fertilisation in Malta, took to Facebook to defend the proposed changes to the Embryo Protection Act, insisting that freezing was needed because the successful pregnancy rate through IVF in Malta was a mere 21 per cent.

“This means that an average of only two couples out of 10 succeed in having a baby through IVF in Malta. And the percentage from frozen cycles is even less… 14 per cent for the same period! I don’t think we can get lower than this and we can’t accept the status quo. What about the thousands of couples with fertility issues who are suffering in silence? Don’t they deserve a fair chance to have a child?” he asked.

Successful pregnancy rate through IVF in Malta was a mere 21 per cent

He believes that the main failing of the present legislation is that it limits fertilisation to two eggs.

“The current restrictions go against their fundamental rights as, until now, they have not been given the best possible chance to have a successful IVF. 

Not everyone has the financial means to go abroad for IVF.

“Embryos need to be protected, agreed, but what about the couples? Who is protecting their interests? Very few are speaking or writing in the media about the couples who are suffering in silence! They stay away from the limelight and can’t fight for their rights,” he said.

Mr Sultana said that embryo freezing is a must because “using two eggs per IVF cycle is a joke”.

“It has been said that some embryos do not survive the freeze-thawing process but these would probably not have survived the implantation or the pregnancy any way. Thousands of embryos are similarly aborted naturally every month,” he said.

He also played the discrimination card and wrote: “The current law discriminates against these couples, against gay couples, all wanting to hold their own child in their hands. Hence donation of gametes (eggs and sperms) is also essential.”

The Cana Movement this week joined the chorus of disapproval with the proposed amendments to the IVF Bill before Parliament, just days after pro-life group Gift of Life described the proposals as “ludicrous and abhorrent”.

Earlier, Former Labour minister George Vella, a specialist in family medicine, branded the Bill “a complete travesty of ethics, morality and human dignity allegedly to remove ‘discrimination’ imposed by nature”.

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