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scientists respond to birth of baby after ovarian tissue transplant

This was the first baby born following the removal, freezing and replacing of her mother’s ovarian tissue.

Dr Virginia Bolton, consultant embryologist Kings College Hospital London, and spokesperson from the British Fertility Society, said:

“This is wonderful news for women who face terrible prospect of becoming sterile from life saving cancer treatment. With this development comes the real chance for them of having their fertility restored and having their own baby once the cancer has been cured. This is a huge advance compared to freezing womens eggs for later IVF treatment because the tissue can be frozen without delay, and when it is transplanted back into the woman she should be able to conceive naturally without any further medical intervention. A group in Edinburgh where this work has been pioneered in the UK has ovarian tissue stored for many women, but as yet none have returned to have it reimplanted. This likely to be for a variety of reasons, either because, for the lucky women, the cancer treatment did not render them sterile at all, or sadly the patient died, or perhaps because the women are still very young and haven’t yet decided to have a family.”

Dr Peter Rowe, Chair of the British Transplantation Society Ethics Committee, said:

“The success of this treatment offers the possibility of infertile women having stored ovarian tissue transplanted from other women. The unknown is whether the tissue would be rejected in a similar way to kidneys transplanted between unrelated people and require immunosuppression. The drugs used to suppress the immune system are relatively well understood but have significant side effects and at the moment gving immunosuppressants to a person without illness is very different from using the drugs to maintain transplants which save lives. The point is, however, that this opens up an exciting new field.”

Dr Richard Anderson, Centre for Reproductive Biology at Edinburgh University, said:

“This is an extremely positive achievement. Particularly exciting is the fact this could be used on young girls unlike other treatments that can only used with adults. This procedure is also particularly attractive to the patient as they would not have to undergo any drug treatments as they would with IVF treatment. However, we must remember that this is not a perfect solution, the patient will still have to have one or several operations. Also, it is not suitable for all types of cancer. This case is of a woman with Hodgkin’s lymphoma a cancer, which is unlikely to spread to the ovary. It is a different story with other cancers, such as leukaemia, as there is the possibility that the cancer will spread undetected to the ovary, and on reimplantion cancerous tissue would be returned to the body.”

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