A cancer survivor who became the first person in the UK to give birth using frozen ovarian tissue said she is “astonished and overjoyed” to have become a mother.
The 33-year-old, from Edinburgh, had a section of her ovary removed 11 years ago after being diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer.
The frozen tissue was re-implanted last year and the woman was able to conceive naturally. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy this month.
The breakthrough has major implications for cancer patients as high-dose chemotherapy drugs can render women infertile temporarily or even permanently by damaging the eggs in their ovaries.
Edinburgh University scientists said there was potential for the woman to have another child as there should be hundreds of eggs contained within the tissue.
The mother, who has not been named, said: “When I had the initial procedure to remove my ovarian tissue, it was very new and experimental.
“There was no guarantee that it would work and while I kept the possibility in the back of my mind, my husband and I never pinned our hopes on it being successful.
“It was hard to imagine how well it could work, given that my tissue had been stored for such a long time and I had already had one round of chemotherapy before it was removed.”
She hailed the foresight of doctors to arrange the small surgical procedure before her second bout of chemotherapy began, as she went through the menopause in her early 20s.
She added: “We never thought it would be possible and we are just astonished and overjoyed. We are extremely grateful to all the people involved in this process.
“When you’re going through cancer treatment it can be hard to think about the future, but I do think this will offer hope to others that they could one day have a family.”
Professor Richard Anderson, chair of clinical reproductive science at Edinburgh University, said: “The storage of ovarian tissue to allow restoration of fertility after cancer treatment in girls and young women was pioneered in Edinburgh over 20 years ago, and it is wonderful to see it come to fruition.
“This gives real hope to girls and young women facing treatment that may cause them to become infertile, and shows how some medical advances can take a long time to show their benefits.”
Charity campaigners hailed the breakthrough, which will offer hope to cancer patients.
Dr Nick Goulden, medical research director at Children with Cancer UK, said: “The important news from the Edinburgh team, who have pioneered the development of this technology in the UK, offers further hope that re-implanting ovarian tissue frozen prior to successful treatment for cancer can be used to preserve fertility after cure.”