An Israeli woman has given birth to a healthy baby girl after undergoing an ovarian tissue transplant, following cancer treatment that left her infertile. The 28-year-old woman, treated at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, is only the second patient in the world to have given birth after such an operation. Dror Meirow and Jehoshua Dor reported the pregnancy at the recent annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), and the case has now been published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Last year, Belgian doctors reported the birth of the world's first baby conceived following an ovary transplant, but there was no way of proving that the pregnancy was not the result of residual fertility. However, the Israeli team that reported the latest case say they are confident the patient had experienced complete ovarian failure prior to the transplant, and had begun early menopause. 'There's absolutely no doubt in this case', commented fertility expert Francoise Shenfield, of University College London.
The woman had already begun a mild round of chemotherapy treatment before having ovarian tissue removed and frozen. Two years after completing chemotherapy, the doctors attached strips of her frozen ovarian tissue to her left ovary, and fragments of tissue injected into the right ovary. After nine months, she resumed menstruation, and the team removed an egg from her left ovary, fertilised it with her husband's sperm, and implanted the resulting embryo into the woman.
The doctors say that although they cannot rule out the possibility that the egg came from the remaining ovary tissue, it is 'very unlikely' because of the timing of the pregnancy and tests showing that the woman had been consistently infertile before the transplant. Commenting on the news when it was reported at the ESHRE conference, Simon Davies, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust said that 'this option should now be offered to women and teenage girls - in fact to any woman capable of understanding what it involves and making an informed decision', adding 'unless there are risks, the question has to be "why not?"'
The Belgian team that reported the birth of the world's first ovary transplant baby, Tamara Touriat, say they have successfully carried out another ovarian tissue transplant. At a conference held earlier this year, they revealed that the 28-year old woman - who had ovarian tissue removed in 1999 before undergoing radiotherapy for sickle-cell anaemia - has started to menstruate again after the operation. However, the woman has not yet become pregnant.
Sources and References
Doctors demand ovary banks for cancer patients
Birth from frozen ovarian tissue reported