Ovary Transplant Surgery
“Ovary Transplants Could Transform Family Life”
by Dr. Sherman Silber, Infertility Specialist & Surgeon
Telegraph.co.uk, December 18, 2008
Dr. Sherman Silber is one of the world’s leading authorities on infertility and has written five best-selling books on reproduction. He practises at the Infertility Center of Saint Louis.
The birth of a baby girl after her mother was the first woman to receive an ovary transplant has been the culmination of ten years of work on freezing and transplanting ovaries and it’s thrilling.
We have developed so many of these unique unusual procedures that we have developed over the last 30 years but I am always excited. We did the first testicular transplant in 1977, then vasectomy reversals with microsurgery, the first sperm retrievals for men without sperm, we discovered the genes for low sperm count and then finally with the ovary freezing and transplant. We are still moving forward, we are looking to transplant ovaries between non-identical twins and freeze more and more ovarian tissue for cancer patients whose treatment will leave them infertile.
I see no reason why this technique to prolong reproductive life should not be routine for all women who want it. The cancer patients who we have frozen ovaries for say they feel really lucky they had cancer, which is an odd thing to say. But they say ‘I’m getting older and am not in a relationship and all my friends are worried about their biological clock. But I’m not worried because I’ve got a young ovary frozen’.
They wouldn’t have done this if they were not confronted by the immediate situation of losing their fertility because of their cancer treatment but then they think about it a couple of years later and they are glad they did it because of the simple biological clock reasons.
If women want to get pregnant and have a babies when they are young I think that is great; natural is always better. I am not trying to encourage women to put off childbearing. But so many women nowadays are really not in a position to have a child until their eggs are too old. I think those women should have ready access to freezing their ovary.
Freezing eggs is another option but you may have to go through two or three, four cycles of stimulation and that might cost $50,000. With freezing an ovary you have got 100,000 eggs and then you are set, you don’t have to do anything else. You could freeze an ovary for $3,000 and get put back for between $6,000 and $10,000. So it would also be much cheaper
I don’t see anything wrong with prolonging reproductive life. You could bank an ovary at university, and go through menopause at 47 instead of 50, and then have the ovary put back and go on again for another twenty years. And it would be another 20 years of good health because you won’t have all the problems associated with the menopause and you wouldn’t have to worry about hormone replacement therapy or anything else. As for women having babies in their 40s I don’t have a problem with that. As long as the mother is in good health and has a good support network I see no reason why a woman cannot have a baby at age 55. People think nothing of it if a 75-year-old man gets married to a 35-year-old woman and has a baby, so why not a 55-year-old woman with a 40-year-old man?
The children from older mothers do great, the women are more settled, they are wiser and the kids are wonderful. People may think it’s ethically unsound to have women giving birth in their 50s but what is unethical is to push women who are young and in the wrong relationship to have kids too early just because their eggs are getting old. That’s immoral.
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