A 46-year-old woman who had ovaries frozen 20 years ago reverses menopause, gives birth to healthy baby girl.
By Pesach Benson, United with Israel
A 46-year-old Israeli woman who had her ovaries frozen 20 years ago during a bout with cancer was able to reverse her menopause and have a healthy baby girl, thanks to her doctor defrosting and re-implanting part of the ovaries.
The woman, identified only as Tzivia, named her daughter Eshkar, a biblical word which means “gift.”
In 2016, a woman from Dubai became the first to have a baby after re-implanting an ovary, and the procedure has led to hundreds of successful births since. But nobody has given birth from an ovary frozen for 20 years.
Professor Ariel Revel, director of the fertility department at the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf HaRofeh) in Beer Yaakov explained to the Times of Israel that Tzivia had a bout with cancer in her mid-20s, before she was married, and came to him to have her ovaries frozen.
At the time, the idea of freezing, defrosting and re-implanting ovaries was only theoretical.
Prof. Revel was then working at the Hadassah Ein-Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem.
“She was told that she needed aggressive chemotherapy which could harm her ovaries,” Prof. Revel told the Times.
“Not only is this a world record, but it also raises the possibility that in the future women could routinely conceive much older by freezing ovaries in their 20s. What is more, it suggests that this could provide a way to actually prevent menopause,” he added.
A decade later, Tzivia asked to have part of her ovary defrosted and transplanted so she could expand her family, which resulted in a daughter who is now ten.
“After the birth, for a few years she didn’t come to see me,” Revel said. “Then, she and her husband wanted another baby. The pieces of ovary we transplanted were no longer working — she had passed menopause. But I had other slivers of her ovary in liquid nitrogen, so I removed some, and performed surgery.”
Revel explained to the Times that the transplant “reversed her menopause.”
“When production of estrogen ceases, symptoms of menopause set in, but if healthy ovaries are returned, it restarts the woman’s period, makes her fertile again and triggers the production of estrogen,” he said.
Prof. Revel told the Times that Tzvia won’t return to menopause for as long as the newly transplanted ovary pieces remain active — which he predicted would be several years.
Funding for the treatment came close to stopping Tzvia’s progress, though. She had just turned 45, and the Israeli health care system funds multiple in-vitro fertilization cycles — but they stop at age 45.
“We started trying to convince authorities to fund more cycles for her, arguing in a letter that her ovary is actually younger than 45 so she should be allowed,” Revel told the Times. According to Ynet, at that point, Tzivia and her husband resolved to somehow finance the treatment on their own if necessary.
“Then, when we were waiting for a response [from the HMOs], she called me and said she missed her period. I told her to run and get a pregnancy test — and she was pregnant,” Prof. Revel told the Times.
“She cried tears of happiness — and so did I.”
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