(HealthDay News) — In what researchers are hailing as a medical breakthrough, a 27-year-old woman gave birth to a healthy baby conceived from ovarian tissue that had been surgically removed and frozen when she was a child. The study findings were published online June 9 in Human Reproduction.
The woman was born in the Republic of Congo, and diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia as a young child. At 11 she immigrated to Belgium and was treated with a bone marrow transplant. Part of the transplant procedure involved chemotherapy. In an attempt to save her future fertility, doctors removed her right ovary when she was 13 and froze tissue fragments. Although the bone marrow transplant was successful, complications arose and the woman’s remaining ovary failed. When she wanted to have a child 10 years later, doctors transplanted some of the previously-frozen ovarian tissue into her body.
The transplanted tissue responded to her hormones. She started menstruating five months later, and continued to have regular menstrual cycles. In November 2014, when she was 27, she delivered a healthy boy weighing 6.9 pounds, the researchers said.
The woman’s ovary continues to function normally and there is no reason why she could not have conceive again, according to lead researcher Isabelle Demeestere, M.D., Ph.D., a gynecologist and research associate in the Fertility Clinic and Research Laboratory on Human Reproduction at Erasme Hospital and the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium. “This is a message of hope for all the children with high risk of premature ovarian failure to improve their future quality of life,” Demeestere told HealthDay.