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At Cook Children's, we believe that focusing on the future fertility of our patients is an extension of Cook Children's Promise to improve the health of every child. Children and young adults with a variety of illnesses, such as cancer, hematologic, rheumatologic, genetic and endocrine conditions, among others, may require treatment that can have a serious impact on reproductive organs. This can make it difficult for them to start families of their own in the future.
Our goal is to help patients and their families make informed decisions about fertility preservation. Our fertility preservation team helps patients and their families better understand the impact current treatments may have on future fertility, as well as options to help preserve fertility.
We educate patients and families on the fertility preservation options available to them based on the diagnosis and anticipated treatment plan. This includes both clinically approved and research options to preserve fertility.
Our fertility team works closely with local and national fertility experts to remain updated on new findings and to expand access to preservation options available here. As a member of the Oncofertility Consortium's Oncofertility Professional Engagement Network (OPEN), Cook Children's demonstrates its commitment to uphold the highest standards in oncofertility care. Our affiliation with OPEN ensures that we are connected to front-line advances in this specialty program and committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients. It creates opportunities for us to join collaborative research efforts with the goal of enhancing patient care now, and in the future.
Upon diagnosis, you will meet with our fertility preservation navigator for an initial counseling session. During this session, you will receive:
If your family wishes to pursue fertility preservation, our fertility navigator will coordinate the next steps in the process to ensure a smooth integration with the current treatment plan, including:
Reproductive health during and after treatment:
In collaboration with expert medical providers in our community, we are able to provide the following fertility preservation options to our patients, as appropriate and feasible.
Sperm is collected and frozen for future use. Note: this procedure is only available to patients who have gone through puberty.
Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
Patients who are unable to produce a sperm sample can undergo a surgical procedure to collect sperm for frozen storage. Note: this procedure is only available to patients who have gone through puberty.
Shielding of testes
Patients who receive radiation therapy near their testes can have them covered by a lead shield to protect them from radiation damage.
Testicular tissue cryopreservation (experimental)
A small piece of testicular tissue is surgically removed and frozen for possible future use. This procedure is reserved for patients at the highest risk for infertility based on their risk assessment.
Ovaries are stimulated to produce mature eggs that are collected and frozen for future use. Note: this procedure is only available to female patients who have gone through puberty.
Ovaries are surgically moved out of the field of radiation to reduce risk of radiation damage.
Patients who receive radiation therapy near their ovaries can have them covered by a lead shield to protect them from radiation damage.
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation
One ovary containing immature follicles is removed and frozen for future use. This procedure is reserved for patients at the highest risk for infertility based on their risk assessment.
Ovaries are stimulated to produce mature eggs that are collected, fertilized with sperm from a male partner or sperm donor, and frozen for future use. Note: this procedure is only available to female patients who have gone through puberty.
As more young people survive cancer, the issue of fertility preservation is front and center. Dr. Karen Albritton and her oncofertility team explore the challenges of preserving fertility in children, teens and young adults
The promise of the future
Children and young adults with cancer are not the only ones whose future fertility is impacted by illness or treatment. Our services are available to a wide range of patients who may have a need for fertility preservation. Some conditions for which this may be important include:
"Cook Children's Promise extends beyond treatment and into survivorship issues, such as fertility. We are excited about this program and believe it's a way to offer hope to patients of all ages who otherwise would not have an option for biologic offspring."
– Karen Albritton, M.D., medical director, Adolescent and Young Adult program at Cook Children's Hematology and Oncology Center.
Have questions or need to make a referral? We can help. If you would like to speak to one of our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-3358 or email FertilityProgram@cookchildrens.org.