By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A two-year old Brooklyn girl who is about to undergo chemotherapy will become the youngest person ever to undergo a fertility procedure where doctors will remove one of her ovaries and freeze it until she is ready to have children.
The New York Post is reporting that the toddler, named Violet Lee, will undergo the procedure to protect her from being rendered infertile by chemotherapy treatments she must have in order to treat a serious immune disorder. Doctors will remove the tiny ovary and preserve it on ice for up to 20 years or until Violet is ready to have children. The ovary will then be reimplanted, hopefully with all of her eggs intact.
The new miracle surgery, known as a “fertility preservation” procedure, is being performed by Dr. Kutluk Oktay who has performed the experimental operation on about 40 girls under the age of 18. Thus far, his youngest patient was three years old.
Ovary transplants have been performed with some success in adults. Of the few dozen women who have had the procedure, which Oktay pioneered in 1999, about one-third have had children, he said.
But adult patients are only separated from their ovaries for a couple years — not decades, like Oktay’s child patients.
“This is experimental — down the road, they may or may not get any benefit,” Oktay said.
The risk is worth it, says Violet’s mom, Tikesha Lee, 32.
“It was important that I found a way to allow her to have children,” she told the Post. “It was hard enough to find out your baby needs to go through chemotherapy, but to hear your daughter will be sterile after the treatment — that one thing gets healed, but another destroyed — I felt someone punched me in the stomach.”
In the last year, Dr. Oktay has also operated on a half-dozen boys with serious illnesses to preserve a small part of their testicles with the hope that one day this tissue can be used to produce sperm.
Violet is set to begin chemo today to help her with a bone-marrow transplant she must undergo because of immune-system problems.
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