Reproduction Breakthrough: Woman Gives Birth Using Her Frozen Ovary

It was reported earlier this month in the journal Human Reproduction that a woman at the age 28, has given birth using her own cryopreserved ovary. The medical breakthrough took place in Belgium, where she gave birth to a baby boy this past Fall.

The young woman was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at the age of five, her condition worsening, and at the age of 13 she was in need of a bone marrow transplant. In order to prevent rejection of the new tissue, chemotherapy or radiation is used before this procedure, which often leaves patients infertile as their ovaries may permanently stop producing eggs. Before chemotherapy doctors extracted her right ovary and froze fragments of the tissue.

Later, at the age of 25, the young woman wanted to start a family. Fifteen small tissue samples from her frozen ovary were thawed and four were grafted on to the remaining left ovary, which had atrophied. The eleven other fragments were surgically put under the skin and around the abdomen.

As the doctors hoped, this led to a hormonal response: the body produced maturing eggs and menstruation occurred. While later it was found that the young woman’s then partner was infertile, she was able to become pregnant two years later at the age of 27 with her new partner. Her baby boy came in November 2014 weighing in at a healthy 6.9 lbs.

What makes this case so groundbreaking is that the ovaries were taken before the young woman had reached pubescence, before she reached her first menstruation. Her child ovaries were able to have a hormonal reaction when transplanted, which induced menstruation and allowed her to conceive. With her ovaries now fully functioning, this case gives hope to young cancer victims, giving them options that can greatly and positively impact them later in life.

Read the full article from Human Reproduction here.