A 38-year-old woman is due to give birth next week after the first ever whole ovary transplant to result in a successful pregnancy, according to an amazing story in the Gardian.
Her ovaries stopped working when she was 15, and she received a donor ovary from her identical twin sister, who has two children. Because both women are genetically identical, eggs from the donor ovary are equivalent to those produced by the patient herself. Three months after the surgery, the patient had her first period in 22 years, indicating that she was ovulating normally again.
The transplant technique will have limited application among women who are not twins because a transplanted ovary would produce genetically different eggs. For these patients it would be simpler to have IVF with donor eggs.
However, the technique offers the possibility of removing and freezing an ovary prior to cancer treatment such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
“To our knowledge, this is the first successful human intact whole ovary transplant leading to healthy pregnancy,” said Dr Sherman Silber at the Infertility Centre of St Louis in Missouri. Silber also presented two other studies involving techniques for freezing ovaries and fallopian tubes for future transplant.
“This sets the stage for a new chapter in reproductive organ transplantation,” said Silber. “In addition to whole ovary transplantation it is possible now to consider fallopian tube transplant for women with irreparable tubal disease.”
Isn’t science wonderful?!