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Second child born to ovarian transplant mother

1 March 2010
Appeared in BioNews 547

A Danish woman has become the first in the world to give birth for a second time following an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell) ovarian transplant. Experts have suggested that the technique, which is still considered as experimental, could be employed as a means of preserving the fertility of women facing medical treatment that could damage their ovaries.

Mrs Stinne Holm Bergholdt's fertility was restored using her own ovarian tissue, which was removed and frozen prior to cancer treatment in 2004. Once her treatment was completed, part of the tissue was thawed and re-implanted, allowing her to give birth to one daughter in 2007 and another in 2009. The birth of the second child more than four years after re-implantation has been heralded as a major breakthrough.

Details of Mrs Bergholdt's case were revealed last week in the online edition of Human Reproduction, the monthly journal of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).

This is not the first time that children have been born following an ovarian transplant, however, Mrs Bergholdt is the first to have given birth to two children from separate pregnancies. Describing the experience as a 'miracle', she said: 'The second time it was quite a surprise to find out I was pregnant since we hadn't been working on it - we thought we needed assistance like the first time'.

Mrs Bergholdt was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer aged 27, but before beginning chemotherapy had part of her right ovary removed and frozen in liquid nitrogen, a technique known as cryopreservation. A year later six thin strips of tissue were re-implanted onto her body, enabling her to produce eggs again normally. Mrs Bergholdt conceived her first child following a short course of hormones to stimulate egg production; the second child was conceived naturally.

Professor Anderson said the technique could be used to help maintain ovarian function for 'as long as 40 years'. He told the Daily Telegraph: '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.

The ability to store ovarian tissue raises the possibility of women using the procedure as a way to preserve their fertility. However, Dr Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at Sheffield University who was not linked to the study, said the invasive nature of the technique makes this unlikely: 'To suggest that a healthy woman would have two operations (to remove and re-implant the ovary) for the sake of social convenience, to have children later, is ludicrous'. Dr Pacey suggested that freezing the eggs themselves would be a much more suitable method of preserving fertility.

'Miracle' second baby for ovarian transplant woman
The Telegraph |  24 February 2010
Mother has second child after ovary transplant
BBC News |  24 February 2010
Ovarian transplant helps woman to be a mum
The Sydney Morning Herald |  24 February 2010
Woman 1st giving birth twice with ovary transplant
The Washington Post |  24 February 2010
World first as woman left infertile with cancer has second 'miracle' baby
Daily Mail |  26 February 2010
21 March 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A 23-year-old woman may soon become become pregnant after receiving an implant of an ovary that had been frozen since she was eight years old...
15 June 2015 - by Dr Julia Hill 
A woman who has received a transplant of ovarian tissue stored when she was a child has given birth. It is believed to be the first time ovarian tissue taken from young girl has led to a successful pregnancy...
9 September 2013 - by Dr Daniel Grimes 
A woman in Australia has become pregnant with her own eggs following an ovarian tissue transplant seven years after her ovaries were removed during cancer treatment....
13 September 2010 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Two new genetic mutations associated with the aggressive cancer, ovarian clear cell carcinoma, have been identified by two independent studies. The mutations - in genes ARID1A and PPP2R1A - shed light on how clear cell tumours may arise and potentially provide potential new drug targets...
5 July 2010 - by Dr Sophie Pryor 
When ovaries from young mice were transplanted into aging females, the old mice lived longer and changed their reproductive behaviour, scientists from Japan have found. The findings raise the question of whether a similar effect may be seen in women receiving ovarian transplants...
6 July 2009 - by Ben Jones 
Lord Winston, emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London and pioneer of IVF, has criticised fertility clinics for over-hyping egg freezing services. In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper he accuses providers of creating false optimism in the effectiveness of the procedure particularly where signing up patients for purely 'social' reasons. Before use of egg freezing grows further he calls for more research into both the effects of egg freezing on the ability to ...
6 July 2009 - by Alison Cranage 
Two studies reported at the annual conference of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Amsterdam last week show advances in ovarian transplant techniques. The advances could make the procedure available to women seeking to avoid fertility problems as they age....
17 November 2008 - by Adam Fletcher 
A 39-year old woman has become the first to give birth following a whole ovary transplant. Susanne Butscher received an intact ovary from her fertile twin sister last year, during a landmark operation carried out by Dr Sherman Silber of the Infertility Centre of St Louis...
6 August 2007 - by Katy Sinclair 
Belgian doctors have announced the first successful transplant of ovarian tissue between non-identical sisters; and are reported to have fertilised a subsequent embryo. Although the embryo failed to develop, the procedure may offer new hope to women who become infertile following cancer therapy. Teresa Alvaro became infertile...
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