Cryopreservation-a Message of Hope

As 2023 begins to take shape, hope for intended parents struggling to find their path in the infertility world continues to grow, and it is partly owed to an old friend, cryopreservation. Since its inception over 50 years ago, cryopreservation continues to be a part of new innovations bringing new possibilities as technology branches off into other avenues. As researchers, doctors, and scientists broaden the landscape in the fertility world, cancer patients, embryo donation recipients, and war veterans now have new possibilities when it comes to fulfilling their dreams of parenthood.

Cancer Patients Give Birth after Freezing Their Ovaries During Treatment

Developed during a clinical trial study at the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Japan, a new fertility treatment technique may have the ability to help women who undergo certain cancer therapies. The procedure involves minimally invasive surgery to remove the ovaries, quickly freezing them after removal and then storing them in a cryobank while the patients go through cancer therapies. Once the patients have completed their therapies, the ovaries are then thawed out and surgically reimplanted in the lower abdomen.

According to Health Trends,  three cancer patients in the study, who froze their ovaries while going through cancer therapies for breast cancer and malignant lymphoma, have successfully given birth in Japan. The women in their 30s and 40s were able to become pregnant naturally or via in vitro fertilization.

Shizuka, a 42-year-old nurse, had one of her ovaries removed after her breast cancer diagnosis and then replaced after her treatment was completed. She was able to become pregnant via in vitro fertilization, telling Health Trends, “I wanted to have a chance to get pregnant and give birth after my therapy, in order to work on my cancer treatment positively.”

Some radiation and chemo treatments can affect a female’s fertility. For example, chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells but kills other fast-growing cells in the body as well. According to the American Cancer Society, estrogen which is needed to release eggs each month is made in oocytes, cells in the ovaries. Oocytes divide quickly and thus are affected by chemo. This loss of hormones can lead to fertility issues as well as sometimes putting women into early menopause. Likewise, radiation near the abdomen or pelvis can damage some or all of a female’s eggs causing fertility issues.

Not only does this new fertility preservation technique help women of childbearing-age, but it also gives hope to young female pediatric cancer patients, who haven’t yet had a period and whose eggs cannot yet be harvested, that they may still be able to have children in adulthood. A female human is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and so to be able to freeze a pediatric patient’s ovaries and store them while she goes through treatment means her eggs will still be viable and healthy when she becomes of childbearing age. Health Trends goes on to say that as technology advances, and doctors can now harvest adult patient eggs at any time, St. Marianna’s clinical study will be shifting its focus to help pediatric cancer patients to increase their chances of fertility in the future.

Twins Born from 30-Year-Old Frozen Embryos

Cryopreservation also continues to provide hope to intended parents seeking embryo donation. This past fall, Rachel Ridgeway and her husband Phillip gave birth to twins using 30-year-old donated embryos, a new record for the longest frozen embryo resulting in a live birth. Previously, as we wrote in an article in 2020, the record had belonged to a Tennessee couple who used a 27-year-old frozen embryo which resulted in a live birth, ousting her big sister Emma, born from a 24-year-old embryo, from the title.

The 30-year-old embryos, frozen in 1992, were kept in a cryobank on the West Coast until 2007, when an anonymous couple donated them to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Upon choosing these embryos, Phillip states in CNN, “We weren’t looking to get the embryos that have been frozen the longest in the world. We just wanted the ones that had been waiting the longest.” The embryos had been placed in a special category called “special consideration,” which meant it had been hard to find recipients for them. The Ridgeways, who already had four children, specifically asked for embryos in this category.

Of the five embryos donated and thawed, three were viable and transferred, and two were successful. Timothy was born at 6 pounds 7 ounces, and Lydia was 5 pounds 11 ounces.

The Ridgeways’ doctor, John Gordon, says for CNN, “If you’re frozen at nearly 200 degrees below zero, I mean, the biological processes essentially slow down to almost nothing. And so perhaps the difference between being frozen for a week, a month, a year, a decade, two decades, it doesn’t really matter.”

Study to Help War Veterans with Infertility

Hope may also be on its way to war veterans, thanks to the miracle of cryopreservation.  According to Yahoo News, in a new study, the Department of Veterans Affairs will partner with the fertility clinic Legacy in order to analyze why infertility rates for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are twice as high as civilian males. Researchers plan to collect the sperm of 1,000 war veterans in order to study this anomaly more closely. They will be looking at a multitude of variables including burn pit exposure, post-traumatic stress disorder, and combat-related injuries, including metals from bullets. The sperm will be tested, then frozen, and then thawed six months later for more testing to account for any variables.

John Crowley, head of military affairs at Legacy, says in Yahoo News, “There are a lot of parameters we can look at from a single sample. For the Defense Department and VA, this will help them see where the sperm are underperforming and why, with respect to deployments and associated injuries.”

This study comes as many veterans complain of lack of help or guidance when it comes to fertility issues and say their complaints have largely been ignored. Senior VHA official Dr. Ryan Vega says in the Daily Mail that as a physician he has “witnessed firsthand veterans struggling with family building”, and he believes the study would help shed light on the challenges faced by many ex-service members.

As new assisted reproductive technologies evolve, cryopreservation continues to play a steady supporting role in the fertility world. For over 50 years, we have relied on it as new innovations make the once impossible possible. Even as political polarization and a right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court pose the greatest threat to reproductive rights since the advent of IVF in the 1970s, reading these stories over the last few months leaves us optimistic that a path to parenthood will one day be available to everyone who desires it, regardless of circumstances.

Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.