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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Woman Gives Birth After Ovarian Transplant

Identical Twin Sister Donated Tissue; Baby Girl Was Conceived Naturally
WebMD Health News

June 7, 2005 -- A 24-year-old woman has given birth months after receiving an ovarian transplant from her identical twin sister.

The baby was conceived naturally, without help from techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), says the report in The New England Journal of Medicine's online edition.

The women's circumstances were very rare. However, the outcome could have "broader implications for preserving fertility in young women, such as those who require potentially sterilizing treatment for cancer," write the twin's health care team. The team included Sherman Silber, MD, of St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis.

New Mom Had Been Infertile for 10 Years

The identical twins were 24 years old. One twin had had three children; her sister had premature ovarian failure and had been infertile for a decade. The infertile twin had only had three years of "scanty" menstrual periods, which ended when she was just 14 years old, says the report.

Wanting children, the woman first tried egg donation and IVF at another clinic. The eggs were donated by her twin sister, but the attempts failed.

Then, the women decided to take another approach. The infertile woman said she didn't want to try IVF again. Instead, she received a graft of ovarian tissue from her identical twin sister.

The graft went in the same area where the ovaries are. Because the tissue used for the ovarian transplant came from her identical twin, the woman's body accepted the donation without needing drugs to suppress the immune system.

Bouncing Baby Girl

Within three months of the procedure, the woman's menstrual cycles resumed and her hormone levels were back on track. She conceived naturally during her second cycle, and the "uneventful" pregnancy resulted in an apparently healthy baby girl, say Silber and colleagues.

Trying to Preserve or Revive Fertility

"The possibility of ovarian transplantation in humans is receiving increased attention," say the researchers. "Some centers offer to bank ovarian tissue of young patients with cancer, with the aim of restoring fertility by transplanting thawed ovarian tissue after they are cured or in long-term remission."

"If ovarian transplantation is proven to be safe and effective in humans, fertility preservation might become readily available for young women who need to delay childbearing for medical or social reasons," says the report.

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