Nathan Crawford from Cornwall has become the first boy in the UK to freeze his testicular tissue to protect himself from infertility.
The 9-year-old boy has been diagnosed with a type of inoperable tumor called glioma, which develops from the glial cells that support the nerve cells of the brain. Therefore, he has to undergo severe chemotherapy for his cancer, but the aggressive treatment may also leave him infertile.
‘A young boy with an inoperable brain tumor has become the first in the UK to have testicular tissue frozen so that he has a chance of having his own children when he grows up.’
A team of surgeons from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford have suggested this technique of freezing testicles to the boy. They hope that this technique will help him avoid infertility by re-implanting the frozen wedge of tissue when he is a teenager.
A similar technique has helped a Belgian woman this year to conceive using re-implanted ovarian tissue that had been frozen when she was still a child.
The keyhole surgery was carried out under general anesthesia and it lasted between 20 and 30 minutes. Surgeons removed a wedge of tissue from one of Nathan's testes.
His Mother Donna Hunt said, "Our decision-making process regarding whether Nathan should have chemotherapy was made so much easier thanks to the fact Oxford could offer this storage of Nathan's cells. Once he'd been up to Oxford to have the testicular tissue removed, he was back home in Cornwall within 48 hours eating fish and chips with us."
Nathan had coped well with the procedure and doctors are hopeful that the cancer treatment will shrink his brain tumor.
Dr Sheila Lane, a consultant pediatric oncologist who is the clinical lead for tissue cryopreservation at the John Radcliffe Hospital, "These tumors can possibly be cured with intensive chemotherapy. Patients can have a long and happy life without any problems."