Fertility Preservation Program Expanded & First Ovarian Harvest Perfomed

Children's Memorial Hospital is expanding its fertility preservation services to its young cancer patients and their families. In February, Marleta Reynolds, MD, Chief of Surgery, and Julian Schink, MD, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, performed the hospital’s first ovarian harvest on a female patient who is about to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and radiation.  “I am confident that this groundbreaking surgery and techniques now in research stages will one day make it possible for young women who risk infertility from cancer treatments to have children of their own,” said Reynolds.

Children's Memorial is a member of a nationwide Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University which is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. This consortium of fertility experts, endocrinologists and researchers are testing to see if a harvested ovary can be fertilized for reproduction. Young cancer patients choosing ovarian harvest surgery are participating in this important research.

"We’re excited that Children’s Memorial is offering this service to young girls at the time of a cancer diagnosis,” said Teresa Woodruff, PhD, Chief of the Division of Fertility Preservation at the Feinberg School of Medicine and Director of the Oncofertility Consortium. “Thinking about future fertility is an important part of cutting-edge care.” 

Barbara Lockart, APN, MSN, who is a nurse practitioner in the hospital’s Long Term Survivor’s STAR Clinic, has been counseling young patients for several years on their fertility options. “By doing this procedure at Children’s Memorial, we are showing our commitment to fertility preservation,” said Lockart. “For years we have been offering male patients the option of banking their sperm. Now we are in a position to offer young female patients the option of harvesting their ovaries. The research holds promise that these girls will be able to start a family when they are ready.”

Lockart says fertility preservation can also apply to patients treated in other disciplines, such as patients with genetic disorders that might cause infertility and rheumatology, that also use medications which might result in infertility.   

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital, is a 23-story, state-of-the-art hospital located in downtown Chicago on the campus of its academic partner, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in the U.S.News & World Report 2013-14 Honor Roll rankings. Lurie Children’s provides pediatric care in a setting that offers the latest benefits and innovations in medical technology, research and family-friendly design. The hospital relies on philanthropic support to care for more than 149,000 children each year.

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