Australian doctors have achieved a world first by helping a woman become pregnant from ovarian tissue grafted into her abdomen.
The woman asked for the tissue to be frozen seven years ago, when her second ovary was removed because of cancer.
Now she is 25 weeks’ pregnant with twin girls, thanks to work carried out by fertility preservation scientists at Melbourne IVF and The Royal Women’s Hospital.
“It’s two girls. We’re pretty excited. A bit freaked out,” says the mum-to-be, identified only as Vali.
In a voice recording released to the media by Melbourne IVF, Vali says she is lucky her doctor offered her an opportunity to freeze tissue.
She did not fully understand the implications at the time but hoped it would one day allow her to have a baby.
“It’s almost science fiction … it’s phenomenal,” says proud dad-to-be Dean.
Doctors around the world have previously achieved 29 births by grafting preserved ovarian tissue back into the pelvis.
This is the first sustained pregnancy through a graft outside the pelvis.
The team, led by Associate Professor Kate Stern, reported the result on Monday at the annual scientific meeting of the Fertility Society of Australia in Sydney.
Prof Stern explained the process. Seven months after a graft of thawed ovarian tissue was implanted into the abdominal wall and after a cycle of gentle IVF hormone stimulation, two follicles were found in the graft site.
Two eggs were retrieved from the follicles and transferred to the uterus.
“Ultrasound tests have shown that the twin pregnancy is proceeding normally,” Prof Stern said.
“This pregnancy provides unequivocal evidence that normal ovarian function and pregnancy can occur at a non-ovarian site.”