Cancer and AIDS patients are living longer and healthier lives - now their ability to have children is improving too.
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Rebecca Pryce: And it just funny that they all come out and say say, hey, you have cancer that can't not have been sits down and says do you have anybody with you? Jennifer Mathews: At 26 with a promising career in television Rebecca Pryce remembers the day she heard those words, that there is more. Rebecca Pryce: And of all those things that you told me, it was the fact that I wouldn't be able to have kids that really took my breath away. Jennifer Mathews: Rebecca's response is not unusual, yet most oncologists either don't bring it up or dismiss it when patients do. Rebecca Pryce: His whole mission was forgot about the kids. We're here to save your life. Jennifer Mathews: Recent studies show, less than 60% of cancer patients say they were told about infertility after treatment. Kutluk Oktay: Because we are so successful with cancer treatment now, many of those young woman service well and then find out that they can't have children. Jennifer Mathews: Rebecca did her own research and found Dr. Kutluk Oktay. He offered her an experimental procedure that may let her get pregnant. Before treatment, he removed ovarian tissue and froze it. It can later be transplanted back and function returned. Kutluk Oktay: We're not so much concerned about survival now. We're concerned about quality of life, and having a family is the most important aspect of normal life. Jennifer Mathews: The same goes for AIDS patients, another group now surviving longer. Dr. Deborah Anderson: They want to have children now, because they know that they'll live to be able to raise those children. Jennifer Mathews: A controversial procedure called sperm washing can give them that chance. Semen is placed in liquid with varying densities and separated. Dr. Deborah Anderson: The white cells which are the ones that are contaminate with HIV would layer here, and the sperm would go to the bottom. Jennifer Mathews: The washed sperm can then be used for artificial insemination. In Europe, about 1,000 women have been inseminated and 400 babies born. None of the mothers or babies have been infected. Dr. Deborah Anderson says, the U.S. Is slower to adopt the procedure because of warnings from the CDC. But she is optimistic about the future. Dr. Deborah Anderson: I tell them that the tide is turning here in North America. Jennifer Mathews: A tide of research that will let more and more people preserve their chances for fertility. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.