Ovarian Transplant Recipient Gives Birth Twice
First Child Was Born After Fertility Treatment, but Seconnd Child Was Conceived Naturally
Feb. 24, 2010 -- A former cancer patient in Denmark who had an ovarian
transplant and gave birth to a daughter after IVF has had another child who was
Doctors in Denmark are hailing the case as a medical first.
''We performed IVF [in vitro fertilization] initially, and expected to do
that for the second child also," says Claus Yding Andersen, MD, a
professor in human reproductive physiology at the University Hospital of
Copenhagen, who reports the case in the journal Human Reproduction.
''However, this wasn't necessary and it turns out that maybe we do not need to
do assisted reproduction in many of the cases," he tells WebMD in an email
The news did not surprise a U.S fertility expert, who tells WebMD most of
his transplant patients have conceived naturally. ''They just get pregnant
naturally with intercourse," says Sherman Silber, MD, director of the
Infertility Center of St. Louis, at St. Luke's Hospital.
Still, Andersen says that "we are surprised [at] how robust the procedure
turns out and how long the transplants actually remain functional. We have
other women who have had functional tissue for more than five years, having
been transplanted with somewhat more tissue."
Although the numbers of transplants, pregnancies, and births resulting from
ovarian transplants are in constant flux, Silber estimates about 50 ovarian
transplant attempts have been made worldwide, with 13 at his center. Andersen
says 15 women have received transplants with frozen or thawed tissue at his
In his paper, Andersen says before the Danish woman's second delivery, eight
children worldwide had been born as a result of transplanted frozen or thawed
ovarian tissue. Silber says the number is now higher. "We have 10 children
[from his center] already,'' he says.
Timeline of a Medical First
The mother, Stinne Holm Bergholdt, now 32, was diagnosed with Ewing's
sarcoma, a cancer of the bone or soft tissue, at age 27 in 2004. Before
undergoing toxic cancer treatments, doctors retrieved part of her right ovary
and preserved it by freezing. Her left ovary had been removed previously
because of a cyst.
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