“Giving An Ovary To My Twin Was A ‘Magical’ Opportunity”
by Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter
Telegraph.co.uk, November 17, 2008
Susanne Butscher’s identical twin said donating an ovary to give her sister the chance of a normal life was a “magical” opportunity.
Dorothee Tilly, 39, was “ecstatic” when Susanne told her she had fallen pregnant a year after the transplant operation, and can’t wait to see her niece Maja when she flies to Britain from her home in Canada later this month.
Mrs Tilly, who runs a bed and breakfast business in Victoria, Vancouver Island with her husband Ulli, a 50-year-old chef, was first approached by her sister three years ago about the possibility of donating an ovary for the pioneering procedure.
“She told me this was the last resort for giving her a normal life, but it was a difficult decision for me because I have two children, my son was only two at the time and I had a responsibility towards my children. It was major surgery, and no surgery is without risk.
“I thought about it for about six months, and in the end I was overwhelmed by the opportunity that had been presented to us. I also knew that my sister would have done the same for me if it had been the other way round.
“Susanne is older than me by 45 minutes, and she is always very thorough – I knew she wouldn’t consider doing anything she wasn’t completely sure about.
“I have two healthy children, Johanna, who is seven, and Lars, who is five, and I don’t want to have any more, so I decided to go ahead. The clincher for me was that it would give my sister the chance to be healthy, knowing that she was suffering from osteoporosis. If it had just been about having children I don’t think I would have done it.”
The sisters went through the transplant procedure at the Infertility Centre of St Louis in Missouri in January 2007, with Dorothee going into surgery first to have her right ovary removed, which was then kept in ice while surgeons prepared Susanne for the delicate procedure of implanting the ovary.
“It was a very intense moment going into surgery and knowing that one of my ovaries would soon be inside her,” said Mrs Tilly. “We hugged and cried, then I went into surgery. It was quite magical when we both came round. We spent three days in hospital together and it was such a close time between us.
“I had a very, very positive feeling that she was going to get pregnant, so when she rang me to tell me the news, it was a surprise but part of me had thought it was going to happen.”
Mrs Tilly is Maja’s genetic mother, but she said: “It only seems a very theoretical thing. We are so close, and I always say she is the other half of me, so I haven’t really spent any time thinking about the idea that I am the genetic mother.”
The operation has not caused any side effects, but Mrs Tilly said: “The only thing I have been told is that I’m likely to go through the menopause one or two years early, but the doctors have done tests and they say I’m likely to have quite a late menopause anyway, so I’m not worried.
“I’m just so happy that I’ve been able to help my sister and I can’t wait to see the baby.”
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- Ovarian Tissue Freezing [technical video]
- News Coverage of Ovary Transplantation
- Complex Surgery Involved In First Successful Whole Ovary Transplant
- Giving An Ovary To My Twin Was A ‘Magical’ Opportunity