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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Ovarian Transplant Recipient Gives Birth Twice

First Child Was Born After Fertility Treatment, but Seconnd Child Was Conceived Naturally

Timeline of a Medical First continued...

Her treatment included multiple sessions of chemotherapy and then surgical removal of the rest of the tumor. The chemo put her into early menopause.

In December 2005, doctors transplanted six thin strips of ovarian tissue from what remained of her right ovary. The ovary began working again. She underwent mild ovarian stimulation in Andersen's fertility clinic and became pregnant, giving birth to her first daughter Aviaja in February 2007.

In January 2008, Bergholdt, who is a doctor and a co-author of the paper, went back to Andersen's clinic, thinking she would need more IVF treatment to achieve a second pregnancy. But she found out she was already pregnant -- having conceived naturally -- and gave birth to her daughter Lucca in September 2008.

In an email interview, Bergholdt recalled the transplant experience. "Of course it is not pain free, but when you have cancer and are facing chemotherapy and much bigger and more invasive surgery this [transplant] was not a big deal," she writes. "At least not for me! The benefits and hope of having a child of my own did compensate for that pain and discomfort."

While both pregnancies were initially ''hard to believe," Bergholdt says eventually "as I grew bigger and bigger I became less skeptical and began to enjoy the pregnancies and all the great expectations about the babies, and me becoming a mother!"

How Ovarian Transplants Work

The freezing or cryopreservation of ovarian tissue is a relatively new medical method, Andersen reports in his paper, developed initially to help cancer patients with the hope of reproducing once their treatment is finished.

Although the transplant is still viewed as experimental, Andersen writes, it is slowly becoming accepted as an alternative to other fertility-preserving methods such as egg freezing.

Ovarian transplants might also help women whose fertility is impaired by treatments for other diseases such as autoimmune diseases, Andersen tells WebMD. More controversial than a transplant after treatment for a disease, Andersen says, is freezing ovarian tissue for transplantation in women who have delayed childbearing or who have entered menopause but then want to conceive.

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