New blood procedure brings hope to women with premature ovarian failure…

A new platelet-rich plasma (PRP) procedure performed for ovarian rejuvenation in the case of premature ovarian failure in a 34-year-old Durban woman, who has been unable to conceive for more than 13 years, has resulted in the first known successful pregnancy of its kind in South Africa.  Mrs Ashlesha Raghubir recently gave birth to her “miracle” bouncing baby boy, Ayush, at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital.

Mrs Raghubir, who was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, a loss of normal function of the ovaries before the age of 40, was able to conceive spontaneously just weeks after undergoing the PRP procedure, reports Dr Sagie Naidu, a gynaecologist, obstetrician and fertility specialist at the Durban Fertility Clinic at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first successful pregnancy in South Africa using the PRP procedure.”

First successful pregnancy in SA after PRP

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first successful pregnancy in South Africa using the PRP procedure. This involves injecting platelet-rich plasma into the ovaries in order to stimulate the stem cells within the ovaries to generate new eggs,” says Dr Naidu, who completed the procedure.

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“My colleagues and I are absolutely delighted with the outcome and for being able to assist this lovely family to conceive their first child. We believe that the new PRP procedure provides real hope for South African women who have experienced premature ovarian failure, an important breakthrough for reproductive medicine in South Africa,” he adds.

“My husband, Arun, and I have been trying to have a child for so many years that we had almost completely given up hope and were close to despair,” relates Ayush’s mother, Mrs Raghubir, who hails from Phoenix near Durban.

“We had been told by many doctors over the years that I wouldn’t be able to fall pregnant and that we should rather adopt a child or consider falling pregnant by egg donation, as I was not ovulating at all. We were determined to have our own baby, however, and having heard many good reports about what Dr Naidu and the Durban Fertility Clinic were achieving, we decided to make an appointment to consult with him.”

Dr Naidu’s positive approach was inspiring

Mrs Raghubir says that, unlike all of the other gynaecologists she had visited previously, Dr Naidu did not try to discourage her and her husband from trying to have their own baby. “On the contrary, he had a positive ‘can-do’ approach throughout, and assured us that he would do everything in his power to find a solution to the challenges we were experiencing,” she observes.

“Dr Naidu explained to us that while the new PRP procedure had never been performed in South Africa, good results were being achieved in women with premature ovarian failure internationally. As he said it is a relatively easy and safe procedure to perform, we felt we had nothing to lose and decided to go for it.

“The procedure was performed at the end of June 2018 and when I went for my three-month follow up, Dr Naidu could barely contain his excitement when he discovered that I was pregnant. I could scarcely believe that I was finally pregnant; that must count as one of the happiest days of my life.

“We are so grateful to Dr Naidu and the Durban Fertility Clinic, for providing us with the benefit of this amazing new procedure, which facilitated conception and assisted us in experiencing the wonder of welcoming our precious son into the world. Given just how difficult it has been for me to conceive, we consider Ayush to be our little miracle child, and we are overjoyed to have him with us today,” she added.

“Given just how difficult it has been for me to conceive, we consider Ayush to be our little miracle child, and we are overjoyed to have him with us today,”

Premature ovarian failure occurs in less than 1% of women

Dr Naidu says premature ovarian failure (POF), sometimes known as premature menopause, is not common and occurs in less than 1% of women.

“POF results in oestrogen deficiency and infertility due to their inability to produce their own eggs, and these women tend to be most unresponsive to conventional approaches to improving their chances of conception. Mrs Raghubir was diagnosed with POF of undetermined cause five years ago and her only real hope of falling pregnant was considered to be through an egg donation. The couple declined this option as they wanted to have their own biological baby,” explains Dr Naidu.

“After more than a decade of struggling to fall pregnant, however, the couple was quickly able to conceive after the PRP procedure. The pregnancy itself developed without a hitch and Ayush was born on 30 April, weighing in at a healthy 3,42 kg at the maternity unit of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital,” he notes.

PRP helps rejuvenate tissue

Dr Naidu points out that platelet-rich plasma has been used in many areas of medicine to rejuvenate tissue and was introduced in reproductive medicine towards the latter part of 2017.

“Blood platelets are tiny components within the blood that normally help with clotting, and are rich in growth factors. We used it to release these growth factors into the tissue, which then stimulated the stem cells in the ovaries to generate new eggs.

“While it is a new procedure and its effectiveness in treating POF requires further long-term study, PRP uses autologous blood, meaning that it is from the patient herself, so minimal risks are associated with it, and it is increasingly being used to successfully treat infertility in women with POF in Europe and the United States.

“This case would appear to confirm its efficacy in this regard and it was incredibly special for the team at the Durban Fertility Clinic and the maternity staff at the hospital to have been able to assist the Raghubir family to achieve their dream of having their own baby.”

Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital general manager Heinrich Venter congratulated Dr Naidu and the Durban Fertility Clinic on completing the PRP procedure and introducing “this invaluable new option for women with POF”.

“The Durban Fertility Clinic offers a range of cutting-edge investigations and treatment options to assist in addressing fertility challenges in both sexes and, as in this case with the Raghubir family, brings hope to couples where they previously had little. It was an incredibly touching moment for us to see them leave the hospital to start a new life with their baby boy, and we wish the family all the best for the future,” he concludes.

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