Frozen tissue birth a first for China
China’s first baby has been born using a technique in which a woman’s ovarian tissue was frozen and then transplanted back at Shanghai Changzheng Hospital.
The 28-year-old woman was suffering from premature ovarian failure and had tried almost every kind of assisted reproductive technology to become pregnant, including in vitro fertilization, but to no avail.
The only way to conceive a baby at the time was to consider egg donation but she didn’t want that.
After hearing that a team led by Professor Li Wen, director of the hospital’s reproductive medicine center, had developed the technique of transplanting cryopreserved ovarian tissue, she and her husband went to the hospital to try the new treatment in the hope of having their own biological child.
In November 2016, the woman’s left ovary was removed and strips of tissue frozen. In May 2017, the frozen tissue was activated and transplanted back to the patient. After a period of drug use and monitoring, the woman became pregnant naturally and delivered a healthy baby boy.
Since Belgian gynecologist Jacques Donnez reported the first successful birth after ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation in 2004, the new method of fertility preservation has been practiced worldwide. But in China, the Changzheng Hospital case was the first birth to use the technology.
"In the past, people didn't pay much attention to preserving fertility in China, a country with a large population and relatively high fertility rate,” Li said.
"With the rising cure rate of cancer patients who don’t want to be sterilized after chemotherapy and radiation, and to expand the reproductive lifespan of healthy women who wish to delay childbearing but do not want to lose their fertility, so the demand to maintain the ability to have children in the future has been rising."
Li's dedication to research in premature ovarian failure and fertility preservation has helped more than 100 women in China preserve their reproductive ability.