We've heard of twins being born in different years, but triplets born four years apart is a whole new level of, 'Huh? Say that again?'
And while it sounds more like something in the realm of fiction, TikToker Shelby claims she's one-third of a set of triplets born four years apart, thanks to egg freezing (also called oocyte cryopreservation) and IVF treatment.
Posted to her account Maximumstrengthpepto, Shelby's video has been viewed more than 15 million times and sees the influencer sharing details about her and her twin sisters' conception via IVF treatment.
Considering that the first IVF baby was born in 1978 and that the first birth from oocyte cryopreservation occurred in 1986, Shelby's parents would have been among the first couples to have undergone these kinds of fertility treatments.
"In 1990, they mixed the sperm and the egg in a Petri dish, and they ended up with all these embryos," Shelby says, explaining that both herself and her twin sisters were conceived simultaneously.
However, Shelby says her parents only had half of the fertilised eggs implanted at a time because "they didn't want to end up with like nine kids".
"That ended up being my twin sisters," she added.
'Frozen on the planet for four years'
Explaining further, Shelby says the rest of the embryos remained frozen, and a few years later, her parents used the second half of the original batch of embryos.
"I was just like frozen on the planet for four years," she joked, adding that her parents were warned they might not be successful the second time around.
"Four years later, they decided to unfreeze the other half, but the doctor told my mom it would never work because they had been frozen for so long, but that ended up being me. I'm a miracle".
"Previously, age was used as a marker to determine how fertile a woman was. Today, we know that this is not correct because a woman of 28 to 30 can have an ovarian reserve of somebody who is 40 years old," Dr Dhansay says.
Explaining the process, Dr Dhansay told us that the treatment involves fertility injections and an egg retrieval procedure.
"The process starts on the third day of the menstrual cycle. The woman will be taking fertility injections to stimulate her ovary to produce as many eggs as possible. The number of eggs would depend on the ovarian reserve or Anti-Mullerian Hormone count. The eggs are retrieved by transvaginal ultrasound between days 14 and 16 of the cycle. This is done under anaesthetic. The procedure takes 10 to 15 minutes to do".
The whole process can cost as much as R55 000 per cycle, Dr Dhansay advises, adding that the process is typically not covered by medical aid.
Additionally, storage fees also come into play, costing between R4 000 to R5 000 per year.
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