2 September 2013

World Breakthrough - First Pregnancy From Ovarian Tissue Grafted in the Anterior Abdominal Wall

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IVF Australia

IVFAustralia’s sister clinic Melbourne IVF together with the Royal Women’s Hospital (the Women’s) announced the world’s first pregnancy from ovarian tissue grafted in the anterior abdominal wall of a Victorian woman today at the Fertility Society of Australia Conference in Sydney.

The world leading fertility preservation medical and scientific research team, led by Associate Professor Kate Stern, Head of Fertility Preservation at Melbourne IVF and the Womens said “This pregnancy provides unequivocal evidence that cryopreservation, or freezing of the ovarian tissue, preserves follicle development and that normal ovarian function and pregnancy can occur at a non-ovarian site
The Melbourne woman, Vali, who previously had both of her ovaries removed as part of her treatment for cancer, is 26 weeks pregnant expecting twins. This is the first time an on-going pregnancy has been achieved from ovarian transplanted tissue on the abdominal wall (a heterotopic graft site).   “Our success means renewed optimism for women who are facing ovarian surgery or radiotherapy to treat cancer. We now plan to introduce a new program for retrieval and transport of ovarian tissue from other centres for cryopreservation and storage in our centre allowing patients being treated outside the major centres to have the optimal opportunity for cryopreservation of their precious ovarian tissue.” said Kate Stern.

Vali sought the tissue preservation treatment to help save her fertility after the loss of ovarian function through cancer treatment. Prior to surgery to remove her second ovary at the age of 23, she requested ovarian tissue be frozen.  Seven years after the cancer treatment that left her menopausal, Vali had the frozen ovarian tissue thawed and grafted back on to her abdominal wall to help her conceive a baby with her own eggs. Vali, is now 25 weeks into her pregnancy and is expecting twins.

Typically freezing and transplanting ovarian tissue back into the original position in the pelvis, is known as orthotopic transplantation, and has resulted in 29 births world-wide.

However in Vali’s case the ovarian fragments were grafted to an alternative site outside the pelvis, away from their physiological location, called a  heterotopic transplantation – this is the first time in the world such a transplant has resulted in a clinical pregnancy.

With the supply of blood and stimulating hormones to increase the viability of the transplanted tissue, follicle development occured and mature eggs were retrieved from the heterotopic site.  Once harvested, IVF was undertaken to achieve the pregnancy.

Congratulations to the entire Research Team responsible for this groundbreaking pregnancy.

  • Associate Professor Kate Stern, Head of the Fertility Preservation Service at Melbourne IVF (MIVF) and the Women’s, Head of Clinical Research at MIVF and Head of the Endocrine and Metabolic Unit, the Women’s;
  • Dr Lyndon Hale, Head of Reproductive Surgery at the Women’s and Medical Director at MIVF;
  • Associate Professor John McBain, Head of Reproductive Services, the Women’s and Senior Fertility Specialist at MIVF;
  • Dr Debra Gook, lead scientist of the oocyte and ovarian tissue cryopreservation program at the Women’s and MIVF;
  • Dr Franca Agresta, Clinical Research Manager, the Women’s and MIVF;
  • Dr Manuela Toledo, senior fertility specialist MIVF;
  • Dr Jacqueline Oldham and Dr Amanda Sampson, gynaecology ultrasound specialists;
  • Associate Professor Tom Jobling, gynaecological oncologist; and
  • Dr Petra Wale, Ms Stacey Gwilim and Ms Nicole Merry, senior scientists and laboratory managers, MIVF.

Special acknowledgement to Professor Claus Yding Andersen, Head of the Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, University Riks Hospital, Copenhagen, and Professor Dror Meirow, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 
The research is to be published in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction  Full Title: First Reported Clinical Pregnancy Following Heterotopic Grafting of Cryopreserved Ovarian Tissue in a Woman after a Bilateral Oophorectomy. (doi:10.1093/humrep/det360)

Find out about IVFAustralia’s Fertility Preservation Program. For more information please call 1800 111 IVF (483) or Email Us.

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