The recipient Teresa Alvaro underwent intensive chemotherapy and radiation for beta-thalessemia at the age of 20, which left her with damaged ovaries and non-functional eggs. Teresa also underwent a bone marrow transplant from her sister.
Deriving hope from a case where a woman benefited from an ovarian tissue graft from her twin, Teresa received the same from her sister, who is incidentally not her twin. This is what makes the successful production of an embryo extraordinary. Following the transplant Teresa started to menstruate again, and after a year doctors were able to recover two eggs from her ovaries.
This is the first time a successful ovarian tissue graft has been carried out between sisters who are not twins or of the same genetic make-up.
According to the journal Human Reproduction, these eggs were removed and fertilized to produce two embryos. Although they did not survive, doctors are now hope of helping cancer survivors, who could not preserve eggs or ovarian tissue before therapy, have a chance at motherhood.
Professor Jacques Donnez of the Catholic University in Louvain, Brussels, carried out the operation.
Teresa is planning more IVF treatments and more importantly, has not lost hope of becoming a mother one day.