Woman `disappointed' after ovary transplant

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The Independent Online
THE HUSBAND of the first woman to have an ovary transplant spoke last night of his wife's disappointment with her continuing reliance on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Michael Lloyd-Hart, an Oxford-trained physicist who is now a research astronomer at the University of Arizona, said his wife, Margaret, had hoped that the ovary transplant she had last February would by now have relieved her of hormone therapy.

"She would rather not have to but it's necessary so she does," Dr Lloyd- Hart said.

Asked whether his wife expected the transplanted ovary to work normally and for there to be no need for HRT, Dr Lloyd-Hart said: "There was some hope that that might be the case, but that's not really the focus of the therapy.

"I think its main one will be in reversing or preventing sterility, which is actually not Margaret's strongest aim," he said.

Mrs Lloyd-Hart, 30, had one ovary removed when she was 17 and her second ovary removed and frozen last year, because of a hormonal imbalance that interfered with her career as a dancer.

Kutluk Oktay, director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at New York Methodist Hospital, transplanted her second ovary back after the diseased section was cut out in a pioneering attempt to "reverse the menopause".

The hospital said at the time that it would know by November whether the graft had been successful in producing hormones and was "fully functional".

As The Independent reported yesterday, Mrs Lloyd-Hart continues to have HRT and has ovulated only once after treatment with drugs. Dr Oktay said that although the operation was a technical success, it had been a disappointment for Mrs Lloyd-Hart.

Yesterday a British medical scientist who helped to pioneer the work that led to Dr Oktay's operation said he was not surprised that the procedure had failed to reverse the menopause.

Tony Rutherford, director of the reproductive medicines unit at Leeds General Infirmary, said: "The fact that this attempt has failed is not something I find very surprising at all. At the time the big storm blew up over this story in September I tried to get over some degree of reality about what was going on," he said.

"My view was that what had happened with Margaret Lloyd-Hart was a move in the right direction, a step on the ladder, but that's all. It was not the complete breakthrough people assumed it to be."

Mr Rutherford dismissed the idea of reversing the menopause in older women as "poppycock". He said: "It provides a window of opportunity for the lady to conceive but it's not really of value in restoring the normal hormonal functions of the ovary." He added: "First you need a decent piece of ovarian tissue to store, and at the age of 40 the density of eggs is so low it's just not worth it."