China's demand for human reproductive services has been on the rise after Beijing scrapped the one-child policy. Photo: Xinhua

A new medical center in Shanghai that freezes ovarian tissue for women suffering fertilty-related medical conditions or those wishing to delay having children has already proved a success for one new mother.

Last year, a woman in China gave birth after her ovary was transplanted back into her body at Shanghai’s Long March Hospital. It was the first such birth in China.

The 28-year-old woman had been 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, according to Shanghai papers. But the technique of transplanting cryopreserved ovarian tissue eventually helped her become a mother.

The woman’s left ovary was removed and strips of tissue were frozen in November 2016 and subsequently activated and transplanted back into the patient in May the next year. She became pregnant shortly after the treatment and delivered a healthy baby boy in 2018.

Reproductive endocrinologists at Shanghai’s Human Fertility Preservation Center freeze and store healthy embryos, sperm and eggs to help the citizens of the city of 25 million people.

The center is part of the city’s prestigious Fudan University. Dr Xu Congjian, the hospital’s president, told the Shanghai Daily that the demand for fertility treatment was rising as women are growing older, adding that Beijing’s move to scrap the decades-old one-child policy had also boosted demand for services, as couples in their 40s and 50s were starting to have children.

Xu also said that many female cancer patients in their prime childbearing age want to have babies and are freezing their eggs prior to undergoing chemotherapy.

The technology of ovarian tissue storage has been in wide use in Europe for more than a decade, after Belgian gynecologist Jacques Donnez reported the first successful birth after ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation in 2004. There have been more than 160 cases of healthy childbirths from eggs from transplanted ovaries across Europe and the US.

A number of patients at the city’s human reproductive technology center have already had their ovarian tissue frozen and stored, waiting to be transplanted back when they are ready for pregnancy.

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