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expert reaction to media reports of a woman having had a baby using ovarian tissue frozen when she was a child

A woman has given birth in London after doctors restored her fertility using frozen ovarian tissue removed when she was a young child.


Prof Richard Anderson, Elsie Inglis Professor of Clinical Reproductive Sciences, and Head of Section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Edinburgh, said:

“The demonstration that you can use ovarian tissue frozen in childhood for later fertility is indeed a world first, although there are now perhaps 100 babies born to women whose ovarian tissue had been stored as adults.  The effect of treatment for cancer and some other serious conditions on fertility is a major concern to those facing those treatments, and this provides a great boost showing a way forward for young girls. It also highlights that this is important for conditions other than cancer, where chemotherapy-type drugs are used.”


Prof. Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology, University of Sheffield, said:

“This is great news.

“The science of fertility preservation for women and young girls has lagged significantly behind what has been available for post-pubertal males (i.e. sperm banking) for many years.  This has been very unfair and we know from many research studies (including some of my own) that the lack of options can lead to a lot of distress and upset for women who face a diagnosis of cancer.

“Whilst the idea of freezing pieces of ovary from the woman before she is given chemotherapy or radiotherapy has been around for many years, until recently it has not been absolutely clear how best to do this.  Doctors and scientists have been experimenting with many aspects of the process, including how much tissue to remove, how best to store it and importantly and how and when to put it back.

“There are now about 60 babies born worldwide from this approach and reports like this one from the UK are very important to hear about so that we can learn from the experience and the process can be refined further.  Many, including myself, have considered this approach to be an experimental one.  But I now think there is a groundswell of support to suggest that it should be made more widely available and become a routine part of clinical care for cancer patients.”


Prof. Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society, said:

“This development is wonderful news. Recently scientists from the University of Edinburgh announced that a woman from Edinburgh had become the first in the UK to give birth to a healthy baby boy following a transplant of her ovarian tissue that had been frozen for 10 years.  Here in Leeds this is the first baby born from frozen ovarian tissue taken from a girl before she reached puberty and re-implanted as an adult.

“This is a ground-breaking step in this area of fertility preservation and has the potential to help many young people who face cancer treatment preserve their fertility chances in the future.  Storing ovarian tissue was pioneered 20 years ago and now the results are coming through.

“Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can have serious side effects on the reproductive organs.  Storing ovarian tissue and more recently storing testicular tissue is becoming more mainstream but we need more centres providing this service and it is important that a multi-disciplinary team of experts is involved to ensure young people in particular are offered this as an option.”


Declared interests

Prof Richard Anderson: “No conflicts to report.”

Prof Allan Pacey: “Chairman of the advisory committee of the UK National External Quality Assurance Schemes in Andrology, Editor in Chief of Human Fertility and Trustee of the Progress Educational Trust (all unpaid). Also, recent work for the World Health Organisation, British Broadcasting Corporation, Purple Orchid Pharma (paid consultancy with all monies going to University of Sheffield). Co-applicant on a research grant from the Medical Research Council (ref: MR/M010473/1).”

No others received.

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