A Belgian doctor claimed Tuesday a world first after restoring the fertility of a woman made infertile by chemotherapy and other cancer treatment.
The gynaecologist, Jacques Donnez, said he had successfully grafted ovarian tissue from the woman's sister last year at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels.
"To this day, more than a year after the graft, the patient continues to menstruate regularly. Her ovarian functions are restored, as well as her chances of natural childbirth," he said in a statement.
In 2005, a US doctor reported a successful transplant of ovarian tissue supplied to a patient by her twin sister, which greatly reduced the chances of the graft being rejected.
This time the graft was achieved with sisters who were not identical.
However, they were compatible in a group of genes called the human leukocyte antigen (HLA), which regulates the immune response to transplanted tissue.
"There was no rejection of the graft despite the absence of immuno-suppressors" and from six to 11 months after the operation normal menstrual bleeding resumed, the statement said.
Following an attempt at invitro fertilisation, two of the woman's ova were removed and fertilised with sperm by injection. Two embryos were formed from the process.
The woman, who is in her mid-thirties and who was not named, was made infertile in 1990 by chemotherapy and total body irradiation treatment before being given a bone marrow transplant.
Donnez's success was to be published in the review Human Reproduction.
His team achieved a world first in 2004, by helping a woman give birth after her ovarian tissue was removed, frozen, thawed and then reimplanted.