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First Asian baby conceived naturally from implanted ovarian tissue born in NUH

SINGAPORE — She had plans to get married and have children, but Madam Siti Nurjannah was diagnosed with cancer in the thigh at the age of 26. She was at risk of becoming menopausal after chemotherapy to treat the cancer, a Stage 2b synovial sarcoma, which is a rare soft tissue cancer.

First Asian baby conceived naturally from implanted ovarian tissue born in NUH

Mdm Siti Nurjannah, 32, gave birth to Asia’s first baby naturally conceived from implanted ovarian tissue on May 21, 2015. Photo: NUH

SINGAPORE — She had plans to get married and have children, but Madam Siti Nurjannah was diagnosed with cancer in the thigh at the age of 26. She was at risk of becoming menopausal after chemotherapy to treat the cancer, a Stage 2b synovial sarcoma, which is a rare soft tissue cancer.

Fortunately, she underwent treatment to preserve part of her ovarian tissue before chemotherapy, and had it implanted when she recovered from the cancer four years later, in 2013. In May, the 32-year-old gave birth to Asia’s first baby naturally conceived from implanted ovarian tissue.

Both mother and daughter are doing well.

A laparoscopy was carried out to harvest the cortex tissue from both her ovaries, and then preserve it via slow-freezing. The cortex is the portion where the egg cells are stored. This was implanted back into her ovaries in March 2013, when Mdm Siti had recovered from cancer and was married and ready to have children.

“The surgery was critical as we had to be quick, in order to avoid damaging the eggs in the thawed ovarian tissue pieces, and careful, so as not to damage any surrounding organs and prevent scarring, which would have reduced her chances of conception,” said Dr Anupriya Agarwal, Consultant at the National University Hospital, who led the team serving Mdm Siti.

Her menstrual cycles, which had previously stopped after chemotherapy, returned regularly and naturally three months later. Baby Hannah was born on May 21 and is reportedly one of only 21 babies worldwide conceived naturally and born following ovarian tissue cryopreservation.

Said Mdm Siti: “Given my medical condition at the time, it was my best possible chance to save my fertility as I wanted to have children in the future.”

The first successful birth in the world from implanted ovarian tissue was in 2004, said Dr Agarwal. “This was the first time we did it (in Singapore). We didn’t know if it would work,” she said. “Because this treatment is so new, people are a bit reluctant.”

She added: “We are extremely hearted by the outcome of Siti’s progress and feel very honoured ... we hope that her story encourages women not to give up on their future fertility in the face of illness.”

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