Wednesday, 24 February 2010
World first as woman left infertile with cancer has second 'miracle' baby
Stinne Bergholdt, with her daughters Aviaja (left) and Lucca. She was left infertile by cancer but after defeating the disease she had tiny strips of ovarian tissue grafted back into her body. With the help of fertility drugs she was then able to conceive
In a world first, a woman left infertile by cancer has had a second 'miracle' baby.
Stinne Bergholdt froze tiny strips of ovarian tissue before undergoing gruelling treatment for bone cancer in 2004.
After beating the disease, some of the pieces were grafted back into her body and with the help of fertility drugs she gave birth to a baby girl, Aviaja in 2007.
She then amazed doctors by falling pregnant again naturally, and in September 2008 had a second daughter, Lucca, making her the first in the world to have two babies following the complex transplant.
Mrs Bergholdt, 32, of Odense in Denmark, 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.'
The double success story, which has been made public for the first time, confirms that ovarian tissue can bear healthy eggs years after being frozen, offering hope to thousands of cancer patients around the world.
Her doctor, Professor Claus Yding Andersen, of the University of Copenhagen, said: '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 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.'
The technique, which involves removing slivers of tissue from the ovary and freezing them in liquid nitrogen, may keep eggs fresh for up to 40 years, the journal Human Reproduction reports.
This raises the possibility of women freezing their ovaries for social reasons - something that is already being done in the US.
Last year, Dr Sherman Silber, of the St Louis Infertility Centre in Missouri, told a fertility conference that he had began to treat women 'worried about the ticking of their biological clock'.
He said that even a tiny piece of ovarian tissue offered greater odds of pregnancy than egg freezing.
Just two British clinics freeze ovarian tissue and only do so for medical reasons, although there is nothing to prohibit them from offering it more widely.The birth of Mrs Berghold's daughters takes the number of babies born worldwide from ovarian transplants to nine.