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2 March 2010
Two healthy babies after ovarian transplant

For the first time, a woman has given birth to two children after her fertility was restored using transplants of ovarian tissue that had been removed and frozen during her cancer treatment. Following her ovarian transplant, Mrs Stinne Holm Bergholdt (pictured) gave birth to a girl in February 2007 after receiving fertility treatment to help her become pregnant. But then, in 2008, she discovered she had conceived a second child naturally and gave birth to another girl in September 2008.Her doctor, Professor Claus Yding Andersen, reports her case in the journal Human Reproduction.

"This is the first time in the world that a woman has had two children from separate pregnancies as a result of transplanting frozen/thawed ovarian tissue," Andersen said. "These results support cryopreservation of ovarian tissue as a valid method of fertility preservation and should encourage the development of this technique as a clinical procedure for girls and young women facing treatment that could damage their ovaries."

Mrs Bergholdt, from Denmark, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2004. Before she began chemotherapy, part of her right ovary was removed and frozen (her left ovary had been removed some years before because of a dermoid cyst, a type of benign ovarian tumor).

Her cancer treatment was successful but, as expected, the drugs triggered menopause. In December 2005 six thin strips of ovarian tissue were transplanted back on to what remained of her right ovary. Her ovary began to function normally again and, after mild ovarian stimulation, she became pregnant and gave birth to her first daughter, Aviaja, in February 2007. In January 2008 she returned to Prof Andersen's fertility clinic for additional IVF treatment so that she could conceive again. However, a pregnancy test revealed she was already pregnant naturally, and in September she gave birth to a healthy girl, Lucca.

"This showed that the original transplanted ovarian strips had continued to work for more than four years and that Mrs Bergholdt still has the capacity to conceive and give birth to healthy children. It is an amazing fact that these ovarian strips have been working for so long and it provides information on how powerful this technique can be. She continues to have natural menstrual cycles and, at present, is using pregnancy-preventing measures to avoid becoming pregnant again," said Prof Andersen. "She has seven more ovarian strips in the liquid nitrogen tank and may return, if she wishes so, to have more tissue transplanted in order to maintain her ovarian function once the current strips stop working. As long as the tissue remains properly stored in liquid nitrogen, it could remain functional for as long as 40 years. However, we do not know this for certain."

Related:
Teaching Old Ovaries New Tricks
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - The Hidden Epidemic

Source: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology


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