Woman Gives Birth Twice After Ovarian Transplant

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Stinne Holm Bergholdt gave birth to daughters, Aviaja and Lucca, after an ovarian transplant. Credit: Flemming Holm Bergholdt


For the first time ever, a mother in Denmark gave birth to two children more than a year apart after an ovarian transplant, an event all the more remarkable because her second child was conceived naturally, according to a story in Human Reproduction.

Stinne Holm Bergholdt was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, at the age of 27. Before she began chemotherapy, Dr. Claus Yding Andersen, professor of human reproductive physiology at the University Hospital of Copenhagen, removed part of her right ovary and froze it, the journal reports.

Bergholdt's cancer treatment was successful but, as feared, caused her to go into menopause.

In December of 2005, six thin trips of the removed tissue were thawed and transplanted onto the remnants of her right ovary, which began to function normally. After taking drugs to stimulate her ovaries and undergoing in vitro fertilization, she became pregnant, giving birth to her first daughter, Aviaja, in February 2007.

In January, 2008, she went to her doctor to discuss another round of IVF treatments, but found out she was already pregnant. That September, she gave birth to her second daughter, Lucca, the journal reports.

"Even though the chances for a successful pregnancy were small, we still had a hope and some degree of realistic expectation," Bergholdt tells ParentDish in an e-mail. "I wouldn't say that it came as a surprise -- it was more like a dream come true ... a dream we almost didn't dare dream until it was actually happening."

In addition to Bergholdt's daughters, seven other children have been born worldwide after transplants of ovarian tissue that had been frozen, nearly all of them in Europe. Andersen says in a statement that the results prove that freezing ovarian tissue is a valid way to preserve fertility and the technique should be developed for girls and young women facing treatments that could damage their ovaries, such as chemotherapy.

The technique has never been tried on a woman past her mid-30s. It is unclear if it would be effective in older women. Even if it is, its use for women who had postponed having children until later in life would raise significant ethical issues because it requires surgery, a spokeswoman for Human Reproduction tells ParentDish.

Related: Biological Clock Ticking: Most Ovarian Eggs Used Up by Age 30

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