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Woman who had ovarian transplant after cancer now has two miracle babies

This proud mother shows off her children -- as well she might. Stinne Holm Bergholdt (32), never expected to have one baby, let alone two.

"It is a miracle," she said yesterday.

She is the first woman in the world to have healthy babies in separate pregnancies after an ovarian transplant, following treatment for cancer which would otherwise have destroyed her fertility.

According to her doctor, she could remain capable of producing babies into her 70s.

Nine children, including Mrs Bergholdt's two, have been born worldwide to women following the transplant of their own ovarian tissue that was frozen and later thawed.

The success of Mrs Bergoldt's treatment increases the prospects of a family for the thousands of women who are diagnosed with cancer each year, three quarters of whom will be left infertile by treatment.

It will also revive speculation about the possibility that doctors may be able to reverse the menopause and allow women to extend their fertility into their sixties and beyond. Mrs Bergholdt, from Odense, Denmark, still has part of her ovary stored in liquid nitrogen available for transplant when she needs it.

Prof Claus Andersen, her doctor, said it could be good for 40 years.

Diagnosed with a rare bone cancer when she was 27, Mrs Bergholdt was prescribed chemotherapy that would normally have destroyed her fertility. But before she began the cancer treatment in 2004, doctors removed part of her right ovary and froze it.

With the chemotherapy successfully completed, in December 2005 six thin strips of ovarian tissue were transplanted back on to what remained of her right ovary, which began to function again.

She was given drugs to stimulate it and, with the help of IVF, she gave birth to her first daughter, Aviaja, in February 2007.

A year later she returned to the fertility clinic to find she was already pregnant having conceived naturally, and she gave birth to Lucca in September 2008.

Enjoying

Mrs Bergholdt, whose case is reported in the journal Human Reproduction, has seven more strips of tissue still frozen in liquid nitrogen and can return to have them transplanted if the existing strips stop working, Prof Andersen said. "As long as the tissue remains properly stored in liquid nitrogen, it could remain functional for as long as 40 years."

For the present, Mrs Bergholdt is enjoying her two daughters and putting off thoughts about extending the family.

"The girls are still so small and need a lot of attention, but maybe in a couple of years we might think about it again."

hnews@herald.ie


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