A New Jersey mother who chose to freeze her eggs for her infant daughter whose medical treatment may cause her to become infertile said she hopes her story inspires others facing a similar plight.
In 2008, Jennifer* took her then-newborn daughter Helen* to the doctor to be treated for the flu, only to later be called back and told that her baby had a condition that required both of her kidneys to be removed.
Helen was born with bilateral renal dysplasia, a common condition in which both kidneys fail to develop correctly in utero. Helen also tested positive for genes that made her susceptible to Wilms’ tumors of the kidney, so at just five-months-old, the infant underwent surgery to remove both organs, and was placed on dialysis.
News of a donor match came, and Helen underwent another surgery, but her body ultimately rejected the donor organs.
“Her body was too smart,” Jennifer told FoxNews.com.
Physicians decided to use experimental drugs to suppress Helen's immune system so that a second pair of donor kidneys would be accepted. However, doctors said that the drugs had the possibility of leaving Helen infertile, causing Jennifer to become concerned for her daughter’s future if and when she wanted to create a family of her own.
Jennifer came up with an unorthodox solution.
“I was thinking about it and decided to freeze my eggs in case she wanted to use them,” Jennifer says.
Jennifer, now 35, knew that the window for saving healthy, viable eggs was closing due to her age, but finding a doctor willing to perform the procedure was more difficult than she had imagined. To her surprise, the idea was met with some backlash by some doctors who refused to do the procedure, citing ethical concerns. According to Jennifer, some doctors believed that if Helen later decided to use the donated eggs from her mother, she would essentially be giving birth to her sister.
Dr. Jane Miller, a reproductive endocrinologist at North Hudson I.V.F. in New Jersey did not agree with this theory, and performed the procedure for Jennifer.
Miller said that it is perfectly acceptable for a woman who feels that she may not be ready to have a baby or will not be able to conceive in the future to harvest her eggs, and likens Helen's case to women who preemptively freeze their eggs before undergoing chemotherapy.
"This is a case of fertility prevention for people who are having issues," Miller told FoxNews.com.
What differentiated Helen from typical cases is that she will not have eggs of her own to freeze, Miller feels that Jennifer is simply giving her daughter another option in case she would like to start a family.
"[Jennifer] is simply saving genetic material for her daughter," Miller said.
Miller and Jennifer both hope that Helen's story will give mothers who are facing similar circumstances an option, so that their daughters' wishes for a family are not lost.
*Editor's Note: Jennifer and Helen's names have been changed for privacy.