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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...

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.

Silber says that the transplant ''sounds like a lot of surgery, but actually it is just a simple outpatient procedure, and not very invasive, compared to months of hormonal stimulation and multiple cycles of treatment required for IVF or egg freezing.''

In response to the Human Reproduction paper, William Gibbons, MD, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said in a prepared statement: "There is no question that the science behind ovarian tissue preservation and transplantation continues to advance. It is an exciting and rapidly advancing field of research. While this work is exciting, we still have much to learn before these treatments can be put into broad clinical use."

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