Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fertility Saving Procedure Performed on Youngest Ever Toddler

The New York Post reports on the youngest child ever to have a fertility saving procedure performed in the wake of a serious illness:

Thanks to a new miracle surgery, the hope that little Violet Lee can one day have children won't be killed by chemotherapy.

The plucky, 2-year-old Brooklyn girl is set to become the youngest person ever to undergo a fertility procedure when a New York doctor removes one of her ovaries Tuesday and freezes it while she undergoes treatment for a serious immune disease.

The tiny organ will be put on ice for 20 years or more, ready for re-implantation if and when a grown-up Violet decides to have kids of her own.

"It was important that I found a way to allow her to have children," her mom, Tikesha Lee, 32, told The Post.

Violet is set to begin chemo Wednesday, to help her with a bone-marrow transplant she must undergo because of her immune-system troubles.

Both chemo and radiation therapies can render patients sterile.

"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," her mom said.

The day before the chemo, little Violet will head to Westchester to visit Dr. Kutluk Oktay, who will perform the experimental "fertility preservation" procedure.

The doctor has already performed the surgery on some 40 girls under the age of 18. The previous youngest was 3 years old.

Ovary transplants have already worked 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 of years -- not decades, like Oktay's kid patients.

"This is experimental -- down the road, they may or may not get any benefit," Oktay said.

Read more here.

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