Women choosing ovarian transplant to save fertility

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on December 16, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 16 at 6:55 PM

Joseph is getting ready for his sixth birthday. His mom, Jennifer Criscuolo, is just grateful to be around for the party.

"I was first diagnosed 15 weeks after my child was born," she said.

She had non-Hodgkins lymphoma.two years later, the cancer came back.

"It was totally unbelievable," she said.

Another round of rigorous treatment would force the 38-year-old into menopause. Jennifer decided to have one of her ovaries removed and frozen.

"Whether you want kids or you don't want kids, when you get better, you want your hormones back in place," she said.

After she went into remission, Jennifer met Dr. Tamer Yalcinkaya of WFU Center for Reproductive Medicine, Wake Forest University. He performed a minimally invasive surgery to re-implant her ovarian tissue. Doctors sewed eight frozen pieces onto Jennifer's remaining ovary.

"Even small pieces of ovary can produce follicles and can release eggs," said Dr. Yalcinkaya.

Six months after surgery, Jennifer's body acted like it had before the cancer - no menopause and back to normal monthly cycles.

"Most women would say, why would you want that? But it's nice to have my hormones functioning again," said Jennifer.

Doctors say there's a chance Jennifer could get pregnant. For now, she's just happy to feel like herself again.

"It's my right to go through all the different stages of womanhood, so I felt like I deserved that," she said.

Only two-dozen of these procedures have been performed in the world, resulting in five births.

Women with certain cancers such as leukemia are not good candidates because there's a risk of the disease may come back after the transplant.

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