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Back in 1990, 20 year-old Teresa Alvaro had to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy following a bone marrow transplant she had underwent to treat a blood disorder beta-thalassemia major. The treatments resulted in failure of her ovaries.

The donor of the bone marrow was her sister Sandra. This procedure showed that the sisters were HLA compatible i.e. that the recipient’s immune system wouldn't attack the foreign tissue from the donor.

Fifteen years later, the sisters found Prof Donnez and asked if it would be possible to restore the function of her ovaries with a tissue transplant as she wanted her own body producing eggs instead of having her sister donating the eggs.

Prof Donnez and his collegues accepted to perform a surgery. They took small pieces of tissue (cortical fragments) from the sister’s healthy ovaries and sutured them to the medulla in Teresa's failed ovaries. The procedures were done laparoscopically so there was no need for women to stay in the hospital.

Six months after the procedures, Teresa’s ovaries started functioning. Both an ultrasound and hormonal tests showed development of a follicle. The doctors managed to retrieved two mature eggs from the follicles. Then they performed IVF (in vitro fertilization). They inseminated the eggs with Teresa’s husband's sperm and they produced two embryos, one developed to two cells and the other to three cells, but unfortunately they did not grow any further and were not implanted back into Teresa's uterus. She is supposed to undergo another IVF procedure and everyone is hoping for the success.

The doctors who performed the tissue transplant reported that this was first time such a procedure has been carried out successfully on sisters who are not identical twins. They say the procedure offers hope for many women who face(d) premature failure of their ovaries and had not been able to freeze their eggs, embryos, or ovarian cortex.


This would be new hope for men and boys without testciles or with non functioning testicles as ovaries and testicles are very similar orgas and the rejection issues seemed to be handled in this transplant case.