It’s being called a medical breakthrough and rightfully so. Each year 10.9 % of women ages 15 to 44 are diagnosed with infertility and 7.4 million women use infertility services each year. One percent of those patient have Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), a condition where the ovaries fail to produce eggs earlier than age 40.
In a story that began in the Congo and ended in Belgium, a 11 year old child had sickle cell anemia emigrated to Belgium where they gave her a bone marrow transplant which is used in some countries to cure the disease. Part of the procedure involved using chemotherapy to disable her immune system which had the potential of making her permanently sterile because her ovaries would not be able to function.
At the age of 13, her doctors removed her right ovary and saved its tissue fragments in an attempt to preserve her ability to have children. Unfortunately during the bone marrow transplant, the patient’s left ovary was damaged which meant she could not have children.
Ten years later, the patient wanted to conceive so her doctors thawed the ovarian frozen tissue taken 10 years earlier and then transplanted it into her body. The tissue responded to the woman’s hormone and she began menstruating 5 months later. Miraculously, the patient became pregnant and delivered a healthy baby boy who weighed 6.9 pounds. The woman’s transplanted ovary continues to function and it is assumed that she can have more children in the future. This accomplishment has changed the landscape of infertility treatment for patients with premature ovarian failure and more research is anticipated because this patient began puberty before her ovary was removed. It is still not known whether the same level of success could occur in women who had not yet reached puberty.
If you had premature ovarian failure, would you consider having this procedure? Please share your thoughts.