Twin girls expected after Australian scientists graft tissue frozen before cancer treatment on to mother's abdominal wall.
Australian doctors and scientists have achieved a world first, helping a woman to become pregnant seven years after her ovaries were removed during cancer treatment, by grafting frozen tissue on to her abdominal wall.
Researchers from Melbourne IVF and the Royal Women's hospital have given hope to cancer survivors who develop menopause after treatment, after achieving the world's first pregnancy from the process.
Just before surgery removed her second ovary, Brisbane woman Vali, 24, whose surname was not released, asked doctors to preserve some of her ovarian tissue in case it was possible to graft it back in the future.
She said it had been "pretty confronting" to have found out at a young age that she might not have been able to have children. "It didn't really hit me until I was ... 24 and I had to make some serious decisions about my healthcare then," she said. "I was really lucky with my doctors. I was able to have this opportunity even though I didn't really know anything about it."
She and her partner, Dean, moved to Melbourne so she could undergo the treatment. Associate professor Kate Stern, head of fertility preservation at Melbourne IVF, said: "We checked the tissue again, checked with her surgeon, made sure that everything was OK and spoke with her oncologist, talked with her about the risks."
They did a first graft in 2010 and a second two years later. "The tissue was put back in the front wall of her abdomen, so that means it's under the skin and the muscle but not inside the abdomen," Stern said.
"We wanted to see if this might help her get pregnant. Then we gave her some very gentle hormone stimulation – not the full-on IVF". The process produced two eggs, which were then fertilised and put back in Vali's uterus. The couple are now expecting twins.
"We're having two girls. I'm pretty excited,'' Vali said.