Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Surgeons Transplant Ovary

Surgeons have transplanted an ovary from one sister to another, in an attempt to regulate hormonal function and enable pregnany, post-cancer therapy. Apparently the pioneering surgeon, Dr. Sherman Silber, has been working on transplanting strips of ovarian tissue between twins facing similar early menopause situations, but this is the first transplant of a full ovary. Additionally, this transplant was between sisters, not twins.

The point does seem to be twofold: one, to regulate hormones, and perhaps slightly more importantly, to regain fertility. (The patient was not married or involved with anyone at the time of her cancer treatment, so could not bank embryos.) This is slightly different from uterine transplants, in that the surgeons are actually talking about things like the toxicity of immunosuppresent drugs on pregnancy. Right now, they're only transplanting the tissue between twins, or people in the Chaney/Lagos sisters, where there will be no immune response due to shared marrow. (This forgoes the need for the immune response suppressing drugs.)

For better or worse, one of the best things about the article is how it's written. It's not sensationalist or over the top. It's not promising a cure for thousands of distraught women, it emphasizes the trial nature of the procedure, talks (albeit briefly) about the issues around transplants and pregnancies, sets limits, and frankly discusses the emotional motivations behind the principle participants.

Kind of a sad commentary on our media when that's novel, eh?

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