A healthy baby boy was born to 39-year-old Irini Koka, the first woman in Greece to have a child following an ovarian tissue transplant. The baby, weighing 3.2 kilograms, was delivered by caesarean section last Saturday, marking the first birth in the east Mediterranean country with this method.

“This is the first time in Greece that a pregnancy and birth have been achieved following an ovarian tissue transplant,” according to Dr. Konstantinos Pantos, the woman’s obstetrician and the general secretary of the Hellenic Society of Reproductive Medicine.

Sixteen years ago, Koka was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, requiring chemotherapy and radiotherapy. When her cancer returned in 2013, she opted to preserve her reproductive ability by cryopreserving ovarian tissue before undergoing further treatment.

In 2021, after her recovery, Koka had the cryopreserved ovarian tissue transplanted back into her now non-functional ovaries.

This ground-breaking procedure took place at a local clinic under the expertise of embryologist Maria Biba, in collaboration with physicians from Oslo University Hospital. The surgery was streamed live to 13 public hospitals across Greece to other medical professionals.

Approximately a year and a half after the transplant, ova harvested from her revitalized ovaries were fertilized with her husband’s sperm. This method has resulted in the birth of 210 children worldwide since the first case in 2004, with a birth rate of 21% and comparable pregnancy rates achieved both naturally and through IVF.

Expressing her joy, Koka said, “My greatest dream has come true. I fought hard and, with the support of the medical team, received the greatest gift of my life, my baby boy. I want to encourage all women facing similar challenges to know that it is worth the effort to try.”