Baby born from ovary frozen in mother's childhood

Xavier Symons
13 Jun 2015
Reproduced with Permission

A Belgian woman has given birth using transplanted ovarian tissue that she had removed when she was a child.

The 29-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, suffered from severe sickle cell aenemia since a young age, and had to undergo strong chemotherapy. Doctors chose to remove her right ovary and surrounding ovary tissue before it was damaged by the chemotherapy; her remaining ovary failed following the treatment, meaning that she was extremely unlikely to conceive without a transplant.

As an adult, the woman asked doctors to restore the frozen ovary. The patient started menstruating spontaneously five months later, and became pregnant naturally at the age of 27. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in November last year.

The gynaecologist who led the treatment to restore the patient's fertility, Dr Isabelle Demeestere, told the BBC the patient was very stressed during the procedure because it was her only option to have a child, but that now she "is of course very happy and is enjoying her new life".

The treatment could potentially allow many other young women with similar ovarian damage to conceive. Doctors did however note that the procedure itself carries risks such as damaging the removed healthy ovary or reintroducing malignant cells at the time of transplant.

About 40 babies have already been born across the world using frozen ovarian tissue taken from older women.

There are, however, many ethicists who have offered a note of caution about the enthusiasm surrounding ovarian tissue transplantation. In a recent article in The Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine Online , Art L. Caplan and Pasquale Patrizio cautioned about the use of ovarian transplants as a treatment for menopause. In another article discussing the ethics of ovarian transplants, Catholic bioethicist Reneé Mirkes argues that it is difficult to justify the procedure using a personalist and teleological ethical paradigm.