The Short of It
Before receiving chemotherapy at age 13, which would have likely left her infertile, an unnamed woman had one of her ovaries frozen. Over a decade later, doctors were able to reattach some of her frozen ovarian tissue. And now, she's given birth to a healthy baby boy.
The mom suffered from sickle cell anemia at age 5, needed bone marrow transplants at ages 11 and 13, and underwent chemo to help increase her blood production. At the time of the initial procedure, she'd shown signs of puberty but hadn't yet had her first period. Since the therapy was expected to cause infertility, her parents and doctors decided to freeze her right ovary in hopes that one day she might be able to become pregnant.
And she did! Laparascopic surgery was used to reattach her ovarian tissue in her mid-20s, and after five months, she began menstruating. Two years later, at age 27, she became pregnant and delivered a baby weighing in at almost 7 pounds.
This woman's story is the first of its kind—other women have had ovarian tissue removed and reattached and then given birth, but none were this young when the tissue was removed.
"It's really quite a revolutionary treatment because it's opened up the opportunity for other children who may need to have chemotherapy—either because they've got diseases of their blood or they may have cancer that needs chemotherapy," Professor Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society, told CBS News. "Now there is the potential to be able to freeze their ovarian tissue, reimplant it when they're adults and enable them to have children, which previously wouldn't have been possible."
Ovary freezing can be much less expensive and less painful than egg freezing. Plus, it can preserve hundreds of thousands of eggs.
Researchers say this procedure is still being experimented with, and there are few women who'd qualify. Still, it brings hope for the future for girls who have to undergo certain health treatments that jeopardize their fertility.
"To have a child go through this and be able to have a baby years later is just remarkable," said Dr. Jill Ginsberg, a pediatric oncologist at the Cancer Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
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