ST. LOUIS, October 20, 2004 ( – Another advance has been made in fertility treatment that would allow infertile women to conceive naturally. Stephanie Yarber, 25, has received a transplant of her twin sister’s ovarian tissue and has conceived a child.

Doctors at St Luke’s Hospital in St Louis, Missouri, think this may be a first where a tissue match was found from an identical twin. Melanie Morgan who has three children, donated her ovaries after her sister spent over US $10,000 on unsuccessful fertility treatments.

Stephanie had been unable to conceive previously because of early-onset menopause at the age of 14. In the experimental surgery, the outer, ovary-producing tissue from Melanie’s ovary was grafted onto Stephanie’s ovaries in a five-hour operation. Now Stephanie is four weeks pregnant and conceived naturally without further medical intervention.

Dr Sherman Silber who performed the operation said that such treatment may someday be used to allow older women to conceive. “We wouldn’t do this tomorrow, the next day or next year, but this I think demonstrates the feasibility of taking an ovary out, freezing it and transplanting later, when they are 45, they’re already CEO’s of a big company, ready to retire and have children.”  Fertility experts, however, are warning women not to wait. In a series of articles on fertility treatments appearing in the National Post in September, scientists were quick to point out that ideal childbearing years are the early twenties and that no amount of scientific advances is going to reverse the course of nature.

In response to this latest breakthrough, Richard Kennedy, secretary of the British Fertility Society, warned, “It is experimental and I think it is an interesting development but it must still be viewed as an experiment.”

BBC News coverage:   ph


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