What do a heart transplant recipient and a woman with a potentially fatal genetic blood disease have in common? Both were able to conceive and deliver babies, thanks to the Hadassah Medical Center’s successful medical intervention.
The woman with the blood disease gave birth to a healthy son thanks to the freezing of her ovarian tissue before she was treated for her condition. The tissue was then implanted after her treatment was completed. The heart transplant recipient gave birth to healthy twin girls, despite the high-risk pregnancy and potential complications of carrying twins to term, given her history.
While freezing eggs and ovarian tissue were once complicated processes with uncertain results, today, eggs and tissue are rapidly frozen in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of minus 197º Celsius, without the worry of biological damage. “This is the future,” says Dr. Ariel Revel, Senior Gynecologist in Hadassah’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Hadassah has been in the forefront of fertility treatment and research for decades. In 1968, Prof. Neri Laufer, head of Hadassah’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, spearheaded a process of artificially manipulating the endometrium for successful implantation. Continuing his groundbreaking work in this field, in 1988, he initiated micromanipulation for in vitro fertilization (IVF) patients. In 1991, Prof. Laufer was the first to employ laser drilling to enhance assisted fertilization.
Pre-implementation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which was begun at Hadassah just three years ago, enables potential parents to find out whether their embryos carry genetic diseases. Once couples discover that their embryos created via IVF are not carriers of genetic problems, the embryos can be implanted in the womb.
“Israel has embraced the Biblical injunction, ‘Be fruitful and multiply!’ and the Israeli healthcare system is a willing partner,” explains Prof. Alex Simon, head of Hadassah’s IVF Center.
Many single women in their mid-thirties, who are looking to delay motherhood without worrying about age-related infertility, are also opting to have their eggs frozen. These eggs retain the characteristics of their “younger self,” so there is less risk that the baby will suffer from conditions that commonly occur with women who conceive when they are older.
“As Director General of this outstanding Medical Center,” comments Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, “I continue to be awed by our physicians and scientists who steadfastly work together to make feasible what was once inconceivable, in every sense of the word.”