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Ovarian transplant success is cause for celebration

27 September 2004
By Dr Jess Buxton
Genetics Editor, BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 277
This week, BioNews reports on the world's first baby born following a transplant of frozen, thawed ovary tissue. This is the first success for a technique that promises to benefit thousands of women who would otherwise lose their fertility forever. Ouarda Touriat, who underwent lifesaving cancer treatment that left her infertile, said after the birth of her baby girl Tamara: 'It is my dream come true'. The doctors who treated Ouarda have frozen ovary tissue from another 146 female cancer patients, and there are many other women around the world who could benefit from this latest advance in reproductive medicine.

The extensive media coverage in the UK reflected the views of the medical experts: Tamara's birth is wonderful news for young cancer patients, and other women at risk of premature ovarian failure. There were no headlines claiming, for example, 'scientists reverse menopause', and the commentary pieces warning of career women bent on putting off babies until they reach retirement age were conspicuous by their absence. All a far cry from the headlines of five years ago, when a British woman travelled to the US to have her frozen ovary tissue reimplanted, again with the hope of restoring her fertility following medical problems. Newspapers reported the story as 'scientists turn back menopause clock' (despite the fact that Margaret Lloyd-Hart was only 30 at the time), and one opinion piece called the news 'a monstrous triumph for the medical sorcerers'.

What has changed since 1999? Perhaps reporters and the public have simply had time to get used to the idea: like IVF technology that was once viewed as 'unnatural' is now welcomed as a medical treatment that can improve the lives of many patients. It has taken years of painstaking work for doctors to carry out successful ovary transplants - Tamara's birth came after pioneering work in animals, culminating in the birth of a rhesus macaque monkey last October. Two groups then reported earlier this year that they had managed to create IVF embryos using eggs from women who had undergone ovary tissue transplants, but no pregnancies resulted. Tamara was conceived naturally, leading some experts to question whether the pregnancy arose from the transplanted tissue or from ovary tissue that survived the cancer treatment. But even if this turns out to be the case, most scientists believe that the first confirmed successful use of this technique cannot be far off.

Perhaps the most likely reason for Tamara's positive media reception is that a baby born to a woman who had to terminate her first pregnancy in order to have life-saving cancer treatment is, to anyone, very good news. It remains to be seen how widely available ovarian tissue transplants will become, or if any women will choose to use the technique for non-medical reasons, but at least the battle for public support of this new technology appears to have been won.

17 November 2008 - by Adam Fletcher 
A 39-year old woman has become the first to give birth following a whole ovary transplant. Susanne Butscher received an intact ovary from her fertile twin sister last year, during a landmark operation carried out by Dr Sherman Silber of the Infertility Centre of St Louis...
6 August 2007 - by Katy Sinclair 
Belgian doctors have announced the first successful transplant of ovarian tissue between non-identical sisters; and are reported to have fertilised a subsequent embryo. Although the embryo failed to develop, the procedure may offer new hope to women who become infertile following cancer therapy. Teresa Alvaro became infertile...
6 January 2006 - by BioNews 
New European rules on the use and storage of human tissue could deny young British women undergoing cancer treatment the chance to preserve their fertility, according to a report in the Times newspaper. The requirements of the new EU Tissues and Cells Directive make it prohibitively expensive for many centres...
3 October 2005 - by BioNews 
A US woman who became infertile after cancer treatment has stunned doctors by becoming pregnant naturally, following a transplant of ovarian tissue into her abdomen. Ann Dauer, from Canton, Ohio has now given birth to a healthy baby girl, named Sienna. Mrs Dauer had one of her ovaries removed and...
15 September 2005 - by BioNews 
Israeli scientists have obtained early sheep embryos after transplanting whole ovaries that had been frozen and thawed. The researchers, based at the Institute of Animal Science, Agriculture Research Organisation, Bet Dagan, report that the ovaries were still working normally three years after the transplant. They say their findings, published in...
25 September 2004 - by BioNews 
The first woman in the world to become pregnant following a transplant of her own frozen, thawed ovarian tissue has given birth to a healthy baby girl. In 1997, Ouarda Touirat, now aged 32, had parts of her ovaries removed before beginning treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma that would leave her...
29 June 2004 - by BioNews 
BioNews reporting from the ESHRE conference, Berlin: Danish researchers have reported that they are on the verge of producing a pregnancy from frozen-thawed human ovarian tissue, while in Belgium it transpires that a woman is already 25 weeks pregnant following similar treatment - the first time this treatment has ever led...
11 March 2004 - by BioNews 
Scientists in the US have become the first to produce a viable human embryo using an egg collected from ovarian tissue that had been kept in frozen storage. Dr Kutluk Oktay and colleagues from Cornell University Weill Medical College published their research in the early online version of The Lancet...
13 October 2003 - by Juliet Tizzard 
By the end of this decade, one in 250 people will be survivors of a childhood cancer. And there is a good chance that the treatment that saved them from cancer will have impaired their ability to have children later in life. Whilst saving lives is the priority, it does...
13 October 2003 - by BioNews 
US scientists have carried out the world's first successful ovary tissue transplant in a primate, and have used one of the resulting eggs to produce a healthy IVF baby monkey. Team leader David Lee, of Oregon University, said it was the first time transplanted ovarian tissue had been used to...
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