There has been some advancement in tissue freezing that is encouraging for individuals undergoing invasive cancer treatments. Concept Fertility Medical Director Kamal Ojha is involved in work with tissue freezing. He is leading research and implementing of a woman’s ovarian tissue freezing programme for the NHS at St Georges Hospital, Tooting.
Here we report on some of the most recent successes and how this proactive fertility treatment is moving forward.
Recent Successes in Tissue Freezing
In late 2014, a healthy baby boy in Belgium made headlines when he was born from an ovary that was frozen during his mother’s childhood. The 27-year-old woman had the ovary removed when she was just 13, prior to an aggressive treatment for sickle cell anaemia. Doctors had hoped that by freezing one of her ovaries prior to treatment, she could still have a chance at having children later in life. This was the first successful proactive fertility treatment of its kind.
Other Proactive Fertility Treatments: Pre-pubertal Testicular Tissue
A surgical team from John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford have similar hopes for Nathan Crawford, a 9-year-old boy from Cornwall with an inoperable brain tumour who is currently undergoing invasive chemo and radiotherapy. They have removed and frozen testicular tissue from him prior to these treatments and believe that there is an 80% chance that he will be able to produce offspring using the tissue when he is older.
According to the NHS, 1,500 children in the UK are diagnosed with cancer each year. Over 80% of children survive. Approximately 10% of these children are left infertile. Using stored testicular tissue is still in the early stages of development, but it is the next step in fertility treatment doctors are hoping to achieve for cancer survivors.
Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at John Radcliffe, Dr Sheila Lane states, ‘I think the important thing is that it gives them hope. It gives them hope firstly that they’re going to survive their treatment because we’re talking about something that’s for the future. But also, it gives them hope that when they do survive they’re going to have the same options as everyone else.’
Meanwhile, Nathan has had the half-hour keyhole surgery in which the tissue was retrieved from one of his testicles. The immature cells will remain frozen until puberty, at which point they will be thawed and re-implanted. This news is positive for not only Nathan and his family, but individuals diagnosed with cancer throughout the UK each year.