February 22, 2024

Freezing eggs could be big business for US MBA student

A Harvard Business School student has founded a company which promises to extend women’s fertility with the unproven technique of egg-freezing. Christina Jones, 34, who has already helped to found two IT companies, is establishing a network of clinics which will harvest, freeze and store eggs. The target market for her company, Extend Fertility, is women from elite universities and business schools who want to delay child-bearing because of their careers or because they cannot find a partner. Women as old as 40 will be eligible.

The project seems premature to many IVF doctors. Only about 100 babies have been born from frozen eggs around the world and there have been no studies of their subsequent health. Even amongst fertility specialists, Ms Jones’s initiative is controversial. She has managed to recruit a scientific advisory board from the staff of Stanford University, but other scientists say that egg freezing is still experimental and that commercialising it so soon is unethical. “At this state of the game, talking about programs doing this all over the country — programs that have no real experience, you should know — is absurd and irresponsible,” says the director of the large egg-freezing program in the US, Dr Kevin Winslow.

“Really what we need is not a Harvard Business School student coming up with a business plan to make money by holding out hopes that have not been scientifically proven,” says bioethicist Lori Andrews. “What we need is a massive change in our social structure so women do not feel they have to postpone motherhood.”