A woman, whose ovaries had failed due to damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, has received a successful ovarian transplant from her genetically non-identical sister. The transplant restored her ovarian function, she started to menstruate and, after a year, doctors were able to recover two mature oocytes from her ovaries and fertilise them to produce two embryos.
This first case of a successful transplantation of ovarian tissue between two non-identical sisters is reported in the journal Human Reproduction today (Thursday 2 August) . Professor Jacques Donnez, head of the department of gynaecology and professor and chairman at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, led the team that carried out the work .
In 1990, when she was 20, doctors treated Teresa Alvaro for beta-thalassemia an inherited blood disorder characterised by reduced or absent haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. She received chemotherapy and radiotherapy before having a bone marrow transplant from her 17-year-old sister, Sandra Alvaro, who had an identically matched tissue type (human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type), which meant that Teresas immune system would not recognise her sisters bone marrow as foreign and reject it.
The treatment was successful and Teresa was cured. However, in 1990 there were no procedures available for preserving her fertility before commencement of the treatment by, for instance, removing and freezing her eggs or ovarian tissue. The treatment caused complete ovarian failure, and her ovaries never recovered.
In July 2005, now aged 35, Teresa consulted Prof Donnez and his colleagues about the possibility of ovarian tissue transplantation from her sister to give her a chance of becoming pregnant.
Prof Donnez said: Having already provided bone marrow in 1990, her sister, who was now aged 32 and had never become pregnant, badly wanted to help her sister by don
Contact: Emma Mason
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology