Western Regional Blog – BC, YK, AB, NWT and Nunavut
An ovarian cancer survivor in Australia, Vali, is 26-weeks pregnant after being told she was infertile due to ovarian cancer treatments. “The sample of Vali’s ovarian tissue was taken from her cancer-free ovary through keyhole surgery and frozen. Seven years later, the tissue was grafted onto the left and right sides of the front wall of her abdomen. After a few months the tissue started working, and with a gentle dose of hormone treatment produced follicles and two single eggs. Both were fertilized, implanted, and became viable pregnancies. OCNA (http://www.ovariancancer.org/2013/09/10/ovarian-tissue-transplant-followed-by-successful-ivf-creates-future-fertility-hope-for-ovarian-cancer-survivors/ )
Amy Corderoy, Health Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
Breakthrough IVF recipient ‘was really lucky’
In a world first, IVF recipient Vali became pregnant after growing eggs from ovarian tissue transplanted into her abdomen. An infertile Australian woman is pregnant after growing new eggs in ovarian tissue transplanted into her abdomen in a world first doctors say has the potential to revolutionise fertility treatment.
The woman, known only by her first name, Vali, is nearly 26 weeks pregnant with twins after previously being rendered infertile by treatment for ovarian cancer.
A team at Melbourne IVF and The Royal Women’s Hospital managed to help the woman grow egg follicles and produce two healthy eggs after transplanting her own frozen ovarian tissue into her abdomen.
Only one baby has been born before in Australia after ovarian tissue transplant, and fewer than 30 globally, but this is the first time the tissue has been successfully transplanted at an entirely different site in the body to where it was taken from.
The Royal Women’s Hospital now wants to develop an emergency centre to take and store tissue samples from young women with conditions such as ovarian cancer where the treatment could make them infertile.
It has collected about 300 samples from women it says could now go on to become pregnant.
Gab Kovacs, the international medical director of Monash IVF, which did the first successful Australian ovarian tissue transplant, said this next breakthrough was very exciting.
“It makes me quite convinced that the optimal way for preserving fertility will be taking ovarian tissue,” he said. “If I had a patient who was going to lose their fertility to cancer treatment I would offer it from now on”.
Vali’s fertility specialist, Kate Stern, said it had taken years and required almost daily testing and other procedures, to achieve the pregnancy. When it happened “I think we all had a good cry together really,” she said. Vali had remained strong throughout. “Never once did she waver and tell us it was too hard and she wanted to give up.”
Associate Professor Stern said she had worked closely with an oncologist to ensure that Vali’s ovarian tissue did not have cancer cells in it, and the pioneering procedure would now provide hope to other cancer survivors.
“We have proven that ovarian tissue can still work and function normally outside the pelvis, which is its normal environment,” she said. “For patients who have severe pelvic disease where we can’t put the tissue back, we can now offer these patients the realistic chance of getting pregnant.”
The sample of Vali’s ovarian tissue was taken from her cancer-free ovary through keyhole surgery and frozen. Seven years later, the tissue was grafted onto the left and right sides of the front wall of her abdomen. After a few months the tissue started working, and with a gentle dose of hormone treatment produced follicles and two single eggs.
Both were fertilised, implanted, and became viable pregnancies.
More than 1300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Australia each year, with about 39 per cent diagnosed in woman under 60.
Delayed screenings can boost success rates: study
Delaying screening embryos for abnormalities could improve a woman’s chance of delivering a healthy baby with IVF, figures show.
Proponents of delayed screening say a study of five years’ worth of Australian and New Zealand IVF data shows clinics must change their practices to improve pregnancy rates.
Last week Fairfax Media revealed that the percentage of IVF cycles that lead to a baby being born is up to eight times higher in some clinics than others.
The study of “pre-implantation genetic diagnosis” – where embryos are tested for problems such as Huntington’s disease and Down syndrome before they are implanted – found the ”day three” screening method was linked to a 43 per cent lower success rate.
Mark Bowman, the medical director of Genea, which 10 years ago developed a method of testing at five days rather than three, said the finding had the potential to change the practice of IVF clinics in Australia and overseas.
The review of nearly 3760 cases of pre-implantation diagnosis showed only 13 per cent of women who had embryo biopsies at day three went on to have a baby, compared to 23 per cent of women with day five biopsies.