Conceiving wholeness: women, motherhood, and ovarian transplantation, 1902 and 2004

Perspect Biol Med. 2011 Summer;54(3):409-16. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2011.0036.


Scholars have shown that organ transplantation may transform ideas about one's body, with recipients feeling that they are receiving not just a body part but also a part of the donor's identity. This article focuses on a different way in which organ transplantation shapes recipient identity: the idea of becoming whole. We present the case studies of two women separated by a century (one in 1902 and the other in 2004) who sought ovarian transplantation, and examine how ovarian transplantation can engender a sense of wholeness on the individual, the familial, and the cultural levels, due to its ability to enable a recipient to naturally conceive and experience pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fertilization
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / surgery
  • Male
  • Mothers*
  • Organ Transplantation / history*
  • Organ Transplantation / methods
  • Ovary / physiology
  • Ovary / transplantation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Testis / transplantation
  • Tissue Donors