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Gametes or organs? How should we legally classify ovaries used for transplantation in the USA?
  1. Lisa Campo-Engelstein
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lisa Campo-Engelstein, Oncofertility Consortium and Center for Bioethics, Science & Society, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 303 E. Superior, Lurie 10-231 Chicago, IL 60611-3015, USA; ltce{at}


Ovarian tissue transplantation is an experimental procedure that can be used to treat both infertility and premature menopause. Working within the current legal framework in the USA, I examine whether ovarian tissue should be legally treated like gametes or organs in the case of ovarian tissue transplantation between two women. One option is to base classification upon its intended use: ovarian tissue used to treat infertility would be classified like gametes, and ovarian tissue used to treat premature menopause would be classified like organs. In the end, however, I argue that this approach will not work because it engenders too many legal, cultural and logistical concerns and that, at least for the near future, we should treat ovarian tissue like gametes.

  • Ovarian tissue transplantation
  • infertility
  • premature menopause
  • organ donation
  • gametes
  • law
  • oncofertility
  • sexuality/gender
  • cryobanking of sperm
  • ova or embryos
  • allocation of organs/tissues
  • donation/procurement of organs/tissues

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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