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From Inconceivable to Feasible

A Friday Story
By Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef

Dear Friends,

Some time ago, we published a story about a young woman with a potentially fatal genetic blood disease who gave birth to a healthy son after her ovarian tissues were removed, frozen and then implanted following her treatment. Shortly before that we wrote about a 33-year-old heart transplant recipient who gave birth to healthy twin girls. Just a few short years ago, these women would have been told that their becoming mothers was an impossible dream. Hadassah helped make their dreams come true. 

For decades the Hadassah Medical Organization has been in the forefront of fertility treatment and research. In 1968, Prof. Neri Laufer, Head of Hadassah's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, created the ability to artificially manipulate the endometrium for successful implantation. Continuing his groundbreaking work in this field, in 1988 he initiated micromanipulation for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and in 1991, was the first to employ laser drilling to enhance assisted fertilization.

Couples who preferred to remain childless rather than pass on damaging genetic diseases and conditions, now enjoy parenthood thanks to a groundbreaking procedure – pre-implementation genetic diagnosis (PGD) – conducted at Hadassah just three years ago. 

“We want to avoid transferring carriers of genetic diseases,” says Prof. Alex Simon, Head of Hadassah’s IVF Center. After the eggs are fertilized through IVF, “we make a hole in the shell with a laser, take out one or two cells for genetic analysis and choose the healthiest before they are transferred to the womb.” 

Israel has embraced the Biblical injunction “Be fruitful and multiply,” the Israeli healthcare system is a willing partner – and we at Hadassah continue to pioneer new advances in the field.   

Freezing eggs and ovarian tissue was once a complicated process with uncertain results. Today eggs and tissue are rapidly frozen in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of minus 197˚ Celsius. “This is the future. It doesn’t cause biological damage,” says Dr. Ariel Revel, Senior Gynecologist in Hadassah’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

“Today, IVF is not only about solving infertility problems and freezing eggs for women facing chemotherapy or other treatments for malignant or even benign diseases,” he says. Many single women in their mid-thirties are looking to delay motherhood but don't want to worry about age-related infertility. As their biological clock continues to tick, they want to freeze their unfertilized eggs until they find a partner – and if that should fail, know that they still have the possibility to have children. 

It is a reasonable solution for women in that situation, he says, and healthier than waiting until they are older when fertility decreases and problems could occur. The eggs a woman freezes retain the characteristics of “her younger self” and are more viable. When implanted, there is less of a risk that her baby will suffer from diseases or conditions common in late pregnancies.

****

As a gynecologist myself, I know just how dramatic these breakthroughs are and how they have turned extraordinary medical challenges into somewhat ordinary – albeit quite complex – medical procedures.   

As Director General of this outstanding Medical Center, I continue to be awed and impressed with our physicians and scientists who steadfastly work together to help women and couples become parents of healthy children – to make feasible what was once inconceivable, in every sense of the word.

 
Shabbat Shalom
Shlomo
Date: 3/4/2011 12:00:00 AM

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