Surgeons have removed a wedge of testicular tissue from one of testes of Nathan, a nine year old boy suffering from brain tumor. Nathan’s sperm stem cells are present in the collected sample collected. It is expected that the cells will remain in viable condition if frozen slowly inside the small amount of testicular tissue.
Nathan Crawford already had a course of radiotherapy and at present is undergoing a second round of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor. However, the treatment might lead to the boy becoming infertile. Thus, prior to the commencement of chemotherapy session, the doctors informed the family about the option of testicular tissue freezing, the procedure developed at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
In a first-of-its-kind operation in the UK, surgeons carried out a 20-30 minute operation to remove the testicular tissue, which will be latter re-implanted in the boy, enabling him to have children. "During the procedure, you take what looks like an orange segment out to divide into small parts, which then get frozen. You are storing the tissue which contains the stem cells,” said Dr, Sheila Lane.
The boy’s brain tumor, known as glioma, develops from the glial cells, which provide support to the brain’s nerve cells. The surgeons reported that the tumor is situated very close to vital brain tissue. Surgeons will not be able to avoid causing severe damage to essential brain functions during the operation to eradicate the tumor.