Scientists have successfully performed the first ever ovarian tissue transplant between non-identical sisters, giving hope to women whose fertility has been compromised by cancer treatment.
The patient, Teresa Alvaro, had undergone treatment for an inherited blood disorder called beta-thalassemia, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, causing her ovaries to fail.
Ms Alvaro has now been given three small sections of ovarian tissue from her sister, leading her to begin menstruating again and enabling doctors to remove two mature eggs from her ovary.
The eggs have been fertilised with her husband's sperm and, although neither embryo developed, doctors are optimistic.
Professor Jacques Donnez, from the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, commented: "We do not know why the embryos ceased to develop, but this also happens during normal cycles of IVF.
"The patient is planning more IVF attempts in the future."
Ovarian tissue transplants have only previously been carried out between identical twin sisters and this latest transplant represents the first time the procedure has been performed on non-identical sisters.
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