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Tissue transplant offers infertility breakthrough

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Thursday, August 02, 2007 | 0 comments

An infertile Belgian woman has successfully received ovarian tissue from her sister in a procedure that could offer hope to women with early menopause or fertility problems after having medical treatment for cancer. The method could be used to help women unsuited to normal IVF treatment, scientists said.

The breakthrough came after doctors in Belgium carried out the first successful ovarian tissue transplant between two non-identical sisters.

Teresa Alvaro, 37, whose ovaries failed after treatment for cancer when she was 20, now has restored ovarian function as a result of the transplant operation from younger sister, Sandra.

Jacques Donnez, a professor of gynaecology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, said it was too early to draw firm conclusions but the procedure gave hope to women who had not had an opportunity to freeze either eggs or ovarian tissue before undergoing damaging cancer therapy.

The treatment could be used between two unrelated women, as long as they had compatible tissue types and had swapped bone marrow, he said.

Teresa Alvaro decided to seek an ovarian tissue transplant after reading in 2005 about a 24-year-old American woman who gave birth to a healthy baby after receiving a similar tissue donation from her twin sister.

The Belgian operation, reported in the journal Human Reproduction, is the first be carried out on two non-identical sisters. After the procedure, Teresa Alvaro produced eggs which were fertilised by her husband's sperm. Although the embryos did not develop properly, she is hopeful she will become pregnant in the future. "I feel this is what I needed to do and I will have children one day," she said.

In February 2006, the sisters underwent the operation to transfer the ovarian tissue. Sections of tissue were removed from Sandra through laparoscopy and, in under a minute, were being sewn on to one of Teresa's ovaries, also via laparoscopy.

The sisters were discharged from hospital the following day.

Teresa started menstruating six months later and tests on her hormone levels confirmed that her ovaries were functioning normally.

Source: http://society.guardian.co.uk/health/news/0,,2139913,00.html





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Catherine

About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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