New initiative created to protect the future fertility of children and young people treated for cancer 5 months ago

New initiative created to protect the future fertility of children and young people treated for cancer

This is great news for so many.

Every year in Ireland, more than 200 children are diagnosed with cancer, and to many, the necessary treatment they are subscribed can often end up damaging their fertility, and impacting their chances of being able to have children in the future.

But now, the Irish Cancer Society and the Merrion Fertility Clinic have joined forces to offer children the chance to protect their fertility – and hence have the chance to start their own family when they are adults.

The Irish Cancer Society has invested €420,000 in the project, and the Merrion Fertility Clinic has welcomed grant funding from the Irish Cancer Society to expand its fertility services for children with cancer and develop a service to freeze the ovaries of pre-pubescent girls.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the clinic’s clinical director, Prof Mary Wingfield, said the service is "absolutely delighted" with the funding, which will allow it over three years to develop a national fertility preservation or freezing service.

She said the news "really gives hope to children with cancer and their families".

The service, which will provide a full fertility assessment for young people, will continue to assist boys who are past puberty to freeze sperm, and will also now allow it to fund cases of freezing eggs for girls who have reached puberty, which is more complicated and costly.

Wingfield explained that while some people's fertility is not affected by chemotherapy, others end up with reduced fertility as chemotherapy can damage ovaries and result in some young women developing early menopause in their late 20s.

About the project, she explained that the hope is that they now can "catch some of these young women between 17 and 24 and give them the opportunity to freeze eggs" at that stage before they enter early menopause.

Prof Wingfield said this service is hugely needed in Ireland, which is one of the few countries in Europe that does not offer it.