Fertility clinic at the Royal Hospital for Women gives hope to cancer patients

Hundreds of people with cancer and rare genetic diseases may still be able to have children thanks to a new statewide fertility centre launched at the Royal Hospital for Women by The Hon. Brad Hazzard MP, Minister for Health and Medical Research.

Minister Hazzard said the Fertility and Research Centre will provide first-class fertility preservation services, giving people with a cancer diagnosis or rare genetic conditions the chance to make their future plans for children a reality.

“This centre is an Australian first, combining the latest research with fertility preservation and assisted reproduction services in a public hospital,” Minister Hazzard said.

The centre is being led by Professor William Ledger, Medical Head of Reproductive Medicine at the Royal Hospital for Women.

“Many young people will encounter cancer in their lives. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy will treat their cancer but will destroy their store of eggs. The answer is to take quick and pre-emptive action by freezing eggs and embryos,” Professor Ledger said.

“We will also offer genetic screening of embryos, helping to eliminate devastating genetic disorders from future generations as well as counselling and psychological support.”

Twelve-year-old Emily Smethills has already benefitted from this new facility.

Having a baby is not something young Emily often thought about, however when she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in her hip last year, Emily and her parents had to make a quick decision about her future chances of having a baby.  

Emily and her parents received advice from fertility experts at the Royal Hospital for Women and decided to have a section of her ovarian tissue removed and frozen so it would be ready later in life if needed.

"We needed to give her every opportunity in the world in the future to have a family herself," Narelle Smethills, mother, said.

Emily officially opened the Fertility and Research Centre alongside the Health Minister and Professor Ledger on Tuesday, 27 August at the Royal Hospital for Women.

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