Chinese doctors have announced that they have successfully transplanted a whole ovary, the first time that such a procedure has been attempted in humans.
The recipient of the ovary was Tang Fangfang, a 34-year old woman who had had her own ovaries removed because of cancer. Her younger sister donated one of her ovaries. The transplant took place in early March, and so far there have been no complications and the woman's menstrual cycles and hormone levels have become normal.
It is not yet known whether Mrs Tang has begun to ovulate, but the doctors who treated her are confident that this will happen and that her fertility will be restored. Her children would genetically be those of her sister.
One of the reasons why the transplant has been successful is the extremely close genetic similarity between the sisters. This meant that no immunosuppressant drugs were needed and that the ovary will not be rejected. If the technique can be refined it may ultimately benefit many women who cannot have children due to ovarian failure or removal. The success of this attempt is also encouraging for women who have their ovaries removed and frozen while they are treated for cancer as it shows that it is possible to 'plumb in' an entire ovary.
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Chinese perform first complete ovary transplant