Ovary transplants a first in the world

When Stinne Holm Bergholdt of Denmark was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 27, she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to have children.

LONDON — When Stinne Holm Bergholdt of Denmark was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 27, she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to have children.

So she asked her doctors if they could remove an ovary before her treatment and transplant it back afterward to preserve her fertility.

More than six years later, Bergholdt and her husband now have two daughters, making her the first woman in the world to give birth twice after an ovary transplant.

“It’s hard to believe it’s really true,” said Bergholdt, of Odense, Denmark. “It’s like a dream that I never would have thought possible a few years ago.”

On the day before she started chemotherapy, doctors took 13 strips of ovarian tissue from Bergholdt’s right ovary and froze them. After eight months of cancer treatment and another year of recovery, doctors reimplanted seven of the strips, or about 20 per cent of an entire ovary.

Bergholdt’s ovary began working again after a few months, and she then had in-vitro fertilization to become pregnant. Nearly a year later, she gave birth to daughter Aviaja, now three. Bergholdt’s treatment was paid for by the Danish health system.

When Bergholdt and her husband decided they wanted a second child, they went back to the fertility clinic, but it turned out that she was already pregnant.