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quarta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2010

Miracle' second baby for ovarian transplant woman

Miracle' second baby for ovarian transplant woman
A woman has hailed her 'miracle' after giving birth to her second child following an ovarian transplant in a world first.

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Published: 7:15AM GMT 25 Feb 2010
Stinne Holm Bergholdt holding her two daughters, Aviaja (left) and Lucca

Mrs Stinne Holm Bergholdt, from Denmark, gave birth after fertility treatment in 2007 but then conceived again naturally the following year.

She had gone through the menopause early at age 27 following treatment for cancer.

The breakthrough is important as it was not known how long ovarian transplants would continue to work and if women could have a family normally afterwards.

The new procedure could allow women to put off the menopause indefinitely and conceive children 'naturally' much later in life.

Doctors said the ovarian tissue could remain viable in the freezer for 40 years with women coming back to 'top-up' their ovarian function periodically.

The technique, which is still considered experimental, offers hope for women born without functioning ovaries or those who have normal fertility which may be destroyed through medical treatments for life threatening diseases.

There have been nine children born following ovarian transplants, mostly where a woman's own ovarian tissue is removed prior to treatment for cancer that will make them infertile. It is then reimplanted and may start producing eggs again normally.

Just over a year ago the Daily Telegraph reported the story of Susanne Butscher who gave birth after the world's first whole ovary transplant. The ovary was donated by her twin sister Dorothee Tilly.

Doctors have now announced in the journal Human Reproduction that Mrs Bergholdt has become the first to have a second child following the reimplantation of ovarian tissue.

Professor Claus Yding Andersen, Professor of Human Reproductive Physiology at the University Hospital of Copenhagen, said: “This is the first time in the world that a woman has had two children from separate pregnancies as a result of transplanting frozen/thawed ovarian tissue.

“This showed that the original transplanted ovarian strips had continued to work for more than four years and that Mrs Bergholdt still has the capacity to conceive and give birth to healthy children.

"It is an amazing fact that these ovarian strips have been working for so long and it provides information on how powerful this technique can be. She continues to have natural menstrual cycles and, at present, is using pregnancy-preventing measures to avoid becoming pregnant again.

“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.

"So, in total, by having around one third of an ovary removed she has the possibility of maintaining her ovarian function for many years. As long as the tissue remains properly stored in liquid nitrogen, it could remain functional for as long as 40 years. However, we do not know this for certain at present.”

He said that the technique is a 'valid method' of preserving fertility for women facing damage to their ovaries and its development should be encouraged.

Mrs Bergholdt, from Odense, Denmark, who is also one of the authors of the research paper, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone tumour, when she was 27 in 2004.

Pieces of her left ovary were removed and frozen before her cancer treatment began. Her right ovary had already been removed some time earlier due to a cyst.

The pieces were transplanted back in 2005 and began to function normally. After mild stimulation with fertility drugs she fell pregnant and gave birth to her daughter Aviaja in February 2007.

The following January she returned to the fertility clinic to enquire about further treatment in order to have a second child but a pregnancy test revealed she had already conceived naturally.

Her second daughter Lucca was born in September.

Mrs Bergholdt, who is now 32, said: “When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I was of course very happy and excited – but also very afraid and sceptical since I found it very hard to believe that my body was really working again.

"My cancer had been diagnosed very late because the doctors didn't take my complaints seriously at that time and kept on telling me that nothing was wrong, so I also wondered if it was really true that I was completely recovered from it.

"But eventually I started to believe that the pregnancy was really happening and began to enjoy every aspect of it.

“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.

"We had an appointment at the fertility outpatient clinic to talk about the possibility of a second baby, but it turned out that I was already pregnant – naturally. It was a very nice surprise to find out that my body was now functioning normally and that we were having a baby without having to go through the fertility treatment.

"It was indeed a miracle.”

Mrs Bergholdt said she and her husband, Flemming, had not decided yet whether they wanted more children.

“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," Mrs Bergholdt said.

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