A breakthrough in fertility treatment?

Researchers are calling it 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. This procedure could prove to be an important achievement in preserving fertility for young women or girls who need treatments for diseases such as cancer that may impair their fertility.

The woman, born in the Republic of Congo, was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia as a young child. She moved to Belgium at age 11, where she received a bone-marrow transplant that included chemotherapy. Before the chemo, doctors removed her right ovary and froze tissue fragments. Ten years later, doctors thawed some of the frozen ovarian tissue and transplanted it into her body, and her natural hormones started her menstrual cycle five months later.

In November 2014, she delivered a healthy boy weighing 6.9 pounds. And she could have more babies if she wants to, the researchers said.

“This is a message of hope for all the children with high risk of premature ovarian failure to improve their future quality of life,” said lead researcher Dr. Isabelle Demeestere, a gynecologist and researcher in Brussels, Belgium. “This procedure is feasible and efficient in children,” she said.

The study findings were published in Human Reproduction.

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