Woman has baby from ovary tis­sue frozen in child­hood

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

In a world first, a woman has given birth af­ter sur­geons im­planted ovar­ian tis­sue that had been re­moved when she was a child, doc­tors re­ported Wed­nes­day.

The girl was com­ing up for her four­teenth birth­day when she was di­ag­nosed with acute ane­mia, need­ing pow­er­ful, ovary-dam­ag­ing treat­ment.

Be­fore the ther­apy, her right ovary was re­moved and frozen in frag­ments in the hope that it could be used if she ever wanted to be­come a mother.

A decade later, sur­geons in Bel­gium thawed some of the frag­ments and reim­planted them. A healthy son was born last Novem­ber.

Sev­eral ba­bies have been born from tis­sue taken from adult women, but this is the first suc­cess with tis­sue re­moved be­fore pu­berty, doc­tors re­ported in the jour­nal Hu­man Re­pro­duc­tion.

“This is an im­por­tant break­through in the field be­cause chil­dren are the pa­tients who are most likely to ben­e­fit from the pro­ce­dure in the fu­ture,” said Is­abelle De­meestere at Eras­mus Hos­pi­tal at Brussels Free Uni­ver­sity, whose team car­ried out the trans­plant.

“When they are di­ag­nosed with dis­eases that re­quire treat­ment that can de­stroy ovar­ian func­tion, freez­ing ovar­ian tis­sue is the only avail­able op­tion for pre­serv­ing their fer­til­ity.”

The pa­tient, born in the Repub­lic of Congo, was di­ag­nosed with sickle-cell anaemia, a ge­netic blood dis­or­der, when she was five.

Af­ter she em­i­grated to Bel­gium at the age of 11, doc­tors found the dis­ease was so se­vere that she needed a bone mar­row trans­plant.

The pro­ce­dure re­quires chemo­ther­apy or ra­dio­ther­apy to dis­able the im­mune sys­tem so that it does not to re­ject the mar­row.

The trans­plant suc­ceeded, although the girl had to con­tinue with im­muno-sup­pres­sive drugs for a fur­ther 18 months, and her left ovary failed.

Ten years later, the woman — who wishes to re­main anony­mous — wanted to have a fam­ily.

At this point, De­meestere’s team of­fered their help.

They grafted four ovar­ian frag­ments to the re­main­ing left ovary and 11 frag­ments at other sites.

The pa­tient started men­stru­at­ing reg­u­larly five months later but then hopes were dashed by an­other prob­lem.

Her part­ner turned out to be in­fer­tile, the cou­ple tried un­suc­cess­fully for an in-vitro preg­nancy, and then their re­la­tion­ship failed.

More than two years af­ter the trans­plan­ta­tion, the woman be­came preg­nant nat­u­rally with a new part­ner at the age of 27. The boy was born last Novem­ber, weigh­ing 3.1 kilo­grams (6.8 pounds).

The pa­tient’s ovary con­tin­ues to func­tion nor­mally, and she has the re­main­ing frag­ments in stor­age.

De­meestere, in a press re­lease, said the pro­ce­dure was not with­out con­tro­versy, given that it en­tailed very young girls.

In­de­pen­dent com­men­ta­tors hailed the feat as an im­por­tant step in over­com­ing in­fer­til­ity, but agreed that eth­i­cal hur­dles re­mained.

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