Researchers at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) presented several cases in which portions of the ovary were removed from women’s bodies, surgically implanted months or years later, and led to spontaneous pregnancies.
The first successful thawing and implantation of ovarian tissues into women had been reported eight years ago. However, following the first pregnancies and live births of women who have undergone the procedure has led to expansion of fertility preservation.
It was believed that the ovaries could last six to nine months. But a case in Italy, presented by Dr. Gianluca Gennarelli, a Turin-based gynocologist has far exceeded expectations. Dr. Gennarelli's patient was 21 years old when she started chemotherapy for cancer. Just before treatment, she chose to harvest ovarian cortical tissue through laparoscopy. The tissue was preserved through slow freezing and liquid nitrogen.
Following her chemotherapy, as doctors predicted, she had ovarian failure. In March 2010, seven years after the storage of her ovarian tissue, she requested implantation. In March 2012, she gave birth to a healthy baby – without the use of in vitro fertilization. The infant is believed to be the twenty-second born from this technique. In total, there are believed to be 28 babies, most were conceived without the need for in-vitro fertilization or fertility drugs.
Another woman was 38 years old when her identical twin donated ovarian tissue to her. Since then, she has had three children, the last at the age of 45.
Though the cases presented were predominantly women who had overcome their battles with cancer, presenters and media outlets believe that the procedure could be opened up to the public. Some have said that it could lead to an end to menopause. For girls born today, who have a 50 percent chance of living to the age of 100, they would spend about half their lives after menopause. This procedure may be welcome and elected by many of them.
It could also delay the biological clock, as the ovarian tissue is ostensibly the age at which it was frozen.
Dr. Gennarelli stressed at the conference that the procedure was still experimental.