Thanks to huge steps forward, over 80 percent of children and young adults who are diagnosed with cancer in the UK today can now be cured.

However, there is a major side effect caused by cancer treatments that can have a permanent life changing effect for many of these patients - infertility.

10 to 15 percent of children and young adults with cancer have been unable to go on to have their own children.

This can have a damaging effect on the physiological wellbeing of these patients, and impact future relationships and marriages. In some cases the cultural implications of being infertile can be devastating.

The Oxford Reproductive Tissue Cryopreservation Programme is changing this.

This multidisciplinary collaboration between Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford, supported by Oxford Hospitals Charity, is the first service of its kind to provide cryopreservation of reproductive tissue for young cancer patients.

Now babies, children and young adults (up to 35) - male and female - can have their reproductive tissue cryogenically preserved until it is needed.

The programme has come about thanks to genuine collaboration and the 'can do' attitude of the many teams involved - led by Dr Sheila Lane. 

Just five years ago there was no clinical fertility service for children and young adults about to start cancer treatment. Now, thanks to this pioneering programme, all young adult cancer patients at risk of infertility in the UK have access to this specialist service, at no cost to them or their families.

By offering fertility preservation, patients and their families are given the hope of a positive future and are able to focus on life beyond cancer.

This programme is shortlisted for a BMJ Award (2018) and is transforming the futures of hundreds of young cancer patients across the UK.

The programme saw its first few patients in 2013. It now cryopreserves (freezes) the reproductive tissue of more than 150 children and young adults from all over the country every year. It is the only service of its kind in the UK.