Associate Professor Kate SternA team from Melbourne IVF in Australia reported the world’s first pregnancy from ovarian tissue grafted onto a patient's anterior abdominal wall.  The woman concerned sought fertility tissue preservation after the loss of her ovarian function following cancer treatment. Prior to surgery to remove her second ovary at the age of 23 she requested that her ovarian tissue be frozen. Seven years after that cancer treatment  - which had left her menopausal - she asked for the frozen ovarian tissue to be thawed and grafted back to help her conceive with her own eggs.

Freezing and transplantation of ovarian tissue back into the original position in the pelvis, known as orthotopic transplantation, has resulted in 29 births world-wide. However, Associate Professor Kate Stern and the team tried a heterotopic transplantation – where ovarian fragments are grafted at alternative sites distant from their 'normal' location. This process - which may use the abdomen and breast as sites – had not resulted in a clinical pregnancy, until now.

The woman had the ovarian tissue grafted to the anterior wall of her abdomen. The tissue was put back in the front wall of her abdomen, placed under the skin and the muscle but not inside the abdomen. The supply of blood and hormones was gently increased to help the potential viability of the transplanted tissue - so that follicle development could occur and mature eggs be retrieved. Once they were harvested, 'normal' IVF was employed to fertilise them and they were transplanted back to the uterus.

Alongside Kate in the team were Dr Lyndon Hale, John McBain and Dr Debra Gook who was the scientist who developed the laboratory process for the freezing and thawing of ovarian tissue. She and the clinic use Planer freezers for their ovarian tissue and very successful embryo and oocyte slow freezing program. As a further development, the clinic is introducing a new program for the retrieval and transport of ovarian tissue from other centres for cryopreservation which would allow patients being treated outside the major centres to have the optimal opportunity for cryopreservation of ovarian tissue.

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Kelly BurkeThe photo shows Kelly Burke, and her son Liam James who came from a slow frozen cryopreserved human embryo stored for 19 years. Ms Burke – a 45 year old NASA scientist - had numerous fertility treatments and after some years of trying she abandoned the idea of using her own eggs and found a couple from Oregon looking to donate four embryos.

Back in 1994 the couple, from Oregon USA, had been struggling with infertility and decided to use eggs donated via the Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area, San Francisco. Going through their own IVF this couple transferred two embryos but froze the remaining ones that had been created during the process using a British made controlled rate freezer.

The Oregon couple had twins from that IVF cycle but the other embryos remained frozen until 2012 when the couple were put into contact with Kelly Burke. She had to go through a formal adoption process but in the end legally adopted four embryos and flew to Reproductive Science Center for the implantation.

"We were all very excited about the procedure," says Dr. Deborah Wachs, reproductive endocrinologist at RSC – the fertility clinic recognised for the nation's second successful birth from a frozen embryo in 1986. "As was practised in the early 90s, the embryos had been developed to the day-2 stage and then frozen." The controlled rate freezer used was made by Planer plc who pioneer assisted fertility equipment. The three families involved in the process 'collaborated' to create a child from what the doctors believe to be the second oldest cryopreserved embryo in history.

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1060 - 380 ContructionThis big beast is the largest controlled rate freezer we make.

With a huge chamber volume of 380 litres it is suitable for volume cell line or vaccine freezing and it was the latter which was needed here for freezing vaccine vials.

It controls temperature down to  -100 ºC  to ensure the integrity of its sample cargo prior to long term cryo storage at liquid nitrogen temperatures.
The proud team who constructed it are shown just before it was packed and shipped to the Far East.

The special CRF allows some 8000 vials to cool at rates of -0.01 to -5 ºC/minute; its large cooling reservoir gives extended hold times. Apart from controlled, efficient and even freezing, post thaw sample integrity (making the equipment suitable for validation) was the reason for its specification by a vaccine company.

The Planer 1060 380 has a mechanically aided top opening lid, simple programming, pass-word access and date stamp verification; these, a unique flow pattern for the coolant and special insulation all ensure even temperature control and ease of use throughout the freezing protocol.

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