In a world first, the woman's ovarian tissue, which had been cryopreserved,
was grafted onto her abdominal wall where it began to produce eggs. The eggs
were then removed, fertilised, and transplanted back into her uterus.
'The tissue was put back in the front wall of her abdomen, so that
means it's under the skin and the muscle but not inside the abdomen', said Dr
Kate Stern, the patient's fertility specialist who worked as part of a team at Melbourne
IVF and The Royal Women's Hospital in Victoria.
The pregnancy indicates that with the right blood supply and
stimulating hormones, ovarian tissue can still produce eggs even when it is
grafted away from its original position in the pelvis, known as orthotopic
Professor Gab Kovacs of Monash IVF said he would recommend storing ovarian tissue to women with conditions such as
ovarian cancer, where the treatment could make them infertile. 'It makes me
quite convinced that the optimal way of preserving fertility will be taking ovarian
tissue', he told The Sunday Morning Herald.
The Royal Women's Hospital is now developing an initiative to
collect and freeze ovarian samples from young woman that might become infertile
due to cancer treatment.
It is hoped that the new procedure can be offered to patients with
severe pelvic disease, where the ovarian tissue cannot be put back into the
pelvis. 'We can now offer these patients a realistic chance of getting pregnant',
Dr Stern told The Sunday Morning Herald.
The patient, known as Vali, who is pregnant with twins, is now the
first person in the world to become pregnant with eggs produced from ovarian
tissue transplanted into her abdomen. She told ABC News that she was lucky to 'have
the opportunity to freeze tissue [in the] hope that someday, something would be
There have been 29 births worldwide from stored ovarian tissue that
was later transplanted back into or near to the original position, but the
success rate is low.