A woman from Belgium was the first one to give birth from a frozen ovary tissue that was removed from her when she was a child. She had to undergo a surgery to help her stay alive when she was just 13 years old. Afterwards, she started chemotherapy, which basically killed any chance she could ever have of giving birth to a baby.
The woman, who is now 28 years old, had been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia when she was five years old. At thirteen, because her condition was worsening, she needed to have a bone marrow transplant and then undergo chemotherapy to prevent her body from rejecting the tissue. This treatment comes at a very high price to pay – it destroys ovaries’ function.
However, the doctors froze some of the little girl’s ovary tissue in order to give her a chance to become a mother one day.
When she became an adult ready for motherhood, she asked the specialists to restore her fertility. The team led by Dr. Isabelle Demeestere from the Erasme Hospital in Brussels, Belgium managed to graft four fragmments of her ovarian tissue onto her left ovary. The remaining 11 fragments were placed under the skin and around the abdomen.
The woman gave birth to a boy last year, in November. The child was reported to be healthy and weighd almost 3.1 kg.
The team who led the operation said that this is an extremely important step forward and it should be perfected.
“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,” said Dr. Isabelle Demeestere.
The example she set might give hope to many girls who hope to have a child one day but can’t because they are victims of ovarian cancer sicke cell disease, leukemia or sarcoma. This procedure can restore their dreams to have a baby of their own.
Nevertheless, specialists point out that further research is required for younger, pre-pubertal children as well.
The details of this premiere have been published on Wednesday, the 10th of June in the journal Human Reproduction.
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