Frozen Ovarian Tissue Removed as a Child Produces a Healthy Baby Boy

shutterstock_255093703

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.

 

 

Dying to Have a Baby: The Death of a 56-Year Old Mother of Twins

Lisa Swinton McLaughlin

It happened again; another heart-breaking horror story. In less than 2 weeks after reporting about the death of Erica Morales, a first-time 36 year old mother who died after delivering quadruplets, Lisa Swinton McLaughlin died at age 56, one week after delivering twins. Their seminaries are uncanny. Both were women of color. Both wanted children desperately. Both were over age 35. Both had infertility treatment. Both spent many years trying to get pregnant. Both eventually became pregnant with more than one baby and both are now dead.

When we think of maternal death, images of impoverished, third-world countries with hard-to-pronounce names come to mind, not the United States. Yet American women DO die in childbirth, despite our advances in technology and medicine.

Lisa was by training both an attorney and a physician. She worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Nebraska and 13 years later went to medical school and ultimately worked in a high-level position for the Red Cross. One might call her a “high-achiever” but the one thing she desperately wanted was to be a mother and have children. As a physician, she knew the potential complications but forged ahead down that slippery slope towards motherhood. Sadly, she died of a bowel obstruction, mistakenly thinking that her abdominal pain was from the C-Section.

No one can or should judge Lisa’s decision to become pregnant at age 56 but everyone should know the facts:

• Older women have an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, especially if they are pregnant with more than one baby

• Fertility treatments are risky

• Adoption is a viable option for older women seeking motherhood. Just ask Diane Keaton (adopted her first child at age 50), Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Meg Ryan and yours truly

• The use of surrogates is also an option if you can afford it. Angela Bassett, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker are members of that sacred club.

It’s admirable when a woman attempts to get pregnant, but it’s a tragedy when she dies in the process.

Erica Morales Delivers Four Babies and Then Dies: Another Pregnancy Tragedy

Erica Morales’ last Facebook message was dated January 15th and simply said, “Prayers please. 5 o’clock C Section.” Now, she speaks from Heaven.

Erica was 36 year old and wanted to become a mother after marrying her soul mate, Carols, in 2007. She worked at the University of Phoenix and was also a real estate agent. Carlos worked in manufacturing. Like millions of other couples, they desired a family but encountered stumbling blocks. Through infertility treatments, their dream came true. Erica became pregnant with four babies.

Carrying four babies at the age of 36 is a serious affair, especially if it’s a first pregnancy. One anticipates that the babies will come early and the risk of developing high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia is significant.

Pre-eclampsia is a deadly pregnancy condition that involves high blood pressure, swelling and protein in the urine. It can cause strokes and women die. The only treatment is delivering the baby because there is something in the placenta that keeps the blood pressure high until it is removed.

Although the hospital will not release the cause of death because of patient privacy issues, one can assume that Erica possibly died from either pre-eclampsia or a hemorrhage. Her blood pressure was reportedly 190/90 which caused her to be admitted to the hospital at 31 weeks. She had a cesarean section and according to her best friends, “never got a chance to hold the babies.”She delivered at a hospital that has high risk specialists so it’s assumed that she received the best care however I do have some concerns:

• I hope the decision to deliver the babies wasn’t delayed because of their prematurity
• I hope someone recognized the subtle signs of pre-eclampsia
• I hope the hospital did simulations or practice drills prior to Erica’s delivery in anticipation of a potential problem

Despite all of our medical advances and sophisticated technology, women are still dying in childbirth. It’s frustrating and it hurts.