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(USA TODAY)-- "Grey's Anatomy" will be losing one of its top surgeons.

Sandra Oh, who has played Dr. Cristina Yang since the show's 2005 premiere, will leave after the ABC drama ends its 10th season next spring. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the story today.

"It's been a great privilege to play the character of Cristina Yang on (Grey's Anatomy) and I am both sad and excited to see where this, her final season, will take her. It was an emotional and deeply creative decision for me and I feel fully supported by (creator Shonda Rhimes) and the writers," Oh says in a statement. "It's so rare in an actor's life to be able to explore and grow a character so fully, so completely.

ABC, in a statement, says the popular medical drama has a long future. "It's our intention to have Grey's on the air for many years to come, with as many of the original cast as possible."

Grey's has lost actors who played major characters before, including originals such as Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight, but Oh's departure is particularly significant. Her Cristina, a brilliant but testy surgeon and the best friend of central character Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), has been at the core of the series. In Grey's-speak, the two characters have referred to each other as "my person."

Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter that Yang's departure feels different. She said it will be addressed at the end of the season "and that story isn't about her leaving the show as much as it is Cristina Yang's growth as a person and as a surgeon. Cristina Yang is not going to magically decide she wants babies, no."

She told the publication she doesn't know if other original stars will remain beyond Season 10 and that she wants them there as long as they would like to stay.

Rhimes expresses her appreciation of Oh in a statement.

"Over the past 10 seasons, I have been made better by Sandra's trust, faith and friendship and I can't quantify how grateful I am for her collaboration on a character we both love so deeply," she says. "This year is going to be bittersweet for us - we're both going to savor every moment of Cristina Yang and then we're going to give her the exit she deserves. And when Sandra walks out of my door, Grey's Anatomy will once again be forever changed."

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