Edinburgh Fertility Preservation

Edinburgh's first

...in reproductive biology

Image of Frosty the lamb with mother in field.

The field of Fertility Preservation is now recognised as an important subspeciality of Reproductive Medicine. It originated, and has continued, as a collaboration between scientists and clinicians in Edinburgh. The work of Professor Roger Gosden, Professor David Baird and colleagues in Edinburgh demonstrated that ovarian tissue could be removed from adult sheep, frozen (cryopreserved) and subsequently transplanted back to restore fertility. This early work resulted in a pregnancy and the birth of Frosty the lamb in 1994 (pictured with mother).  The first procedure to store ovarian tissue from a woman facing sterilising treatment for cancer was performed in Edinburgh in 1993.

This work then formed the basis for the first transplantation of human ovarian tissue in 1999 by Dr. Kutluk Oktay in New York and then the first transplantation that led to a live birth which was  carried out by the team of Professor Jacques Donnez in Brussels in 2004.

In July 2016 the Edinburgh legacy was continued with the announcement of the first UK baby born to a mother who had undergone transplantation of her own ovary tissue, tissue that had been removed before she went through chemotherapy a decade earlier. The baby was born at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, and signals hope for many girls and young women facing chemotherapy - as well as bringing  to fruition many years of work by the members of Edinburgh Fertility Preservation.