An unidentified woman has given birth after ovarian tissue, which was removed from her at age 13, was transplanted back into her. The ovarian tissue was frozen for over 10 years and was perfectly preserved.
The woman, from the Republic of Congo, was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a deadly blood disease, at a young age. One of the methods used to treat sickle cell anemia is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be used to increase hemoglobin levels in young individuals but is known to cause damage to the ovaries, which can lead to infertility in woman. In order to give the woman a hope at having a baby in the future, doctors removed a portion of her ovaries to preserve it in the future.
According to doctors, this is the first time this procedure has been done on a female of this age and lead to the birth of a healthy baby.
Doctors grafted the frozen portion of ovary onto the woman a decade after it was removed. The grafted portion of the ovary began producing eggs and within two years the woman was pregnant. Last November the woman gave birth to a healthy 7-pound baby.
“It was a very happy moment,” said Dr. Isabelle Demeestere (pictured above), a doctor who worked with the woman and a researcher at Erasmus Hospital in Brussels. “I was most happy for (my patient) because she was afraid if this didn’t work, there would be no other option for her to have a baby.”
Demeestre wasn’t sure initially if the procedure would work because the tissue was transplanted into an immature patient. After the transplant was completed however, Demeestre observed normal hormone levels and ovulation and was very confident she could get pregnant.
Older woman have successfully gone through this procedure and given birth but it was the first time a woman of this young age had done so. This is encouraging news to know that it is possible for young woman who are receiving chemotherapy to have children later in their life. However, the patient had entered puberty at the time of the removal of a portion of the ovary so it is not known whether this would work on patients who have not entered puberty.
Dr. Jill Ginsberg, a pediatric oncologist at a hospital in Philadelphia said “To have a child go through this and be able to have a baby years later is just remarkable,” and “There is hope for girls who are at high risk of (losing their fertility) but this is still going to be a long shot for anyone going through this kind of treatment,”
Demeestre and her colleagues published details about this procedure in the journal Human Reproduction