Published: Sat, December 17, 2016
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Woman is first to have baby with ovaries frozen as a child

Dr Matthews, who works at the private Portland Hospital in London, sent the tissue to Denmark, where she helped transplant it back. "We've been waiting so long for this result - a healthy baby", she told the BBC. The 24-year-old woman is believed to be the first in the world to deliver a baby after having frozen an ovary tissue before puberty.

Born with beta thalessaemia, a blood condition which can be fatal if not treated, Moaza had to face treatments from a very young age. She had chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant in 2001 when she was 9, and because chemotherapy damages the ovaries, she had her right ovary removed and frozen first.

This young woman from Dubai was born with an inherited blood disorder, called beta thalassemia, which is characterized by reducing the production of hemoglobin in the blood.

So that's exactly what Moaza did: when her ovary was removed, tissue samples were preserved using the cryogenic freezing method typically used to "freeze" eggs, and past year she went to Denmark so surgeons could attempt to transplant the ovarian tissue back into her body.

The chemotherapy required for the treatment came with a 99% chance of her being rendered infertile, but her mother had read about the option of having her ovaries frozen, to be re-implanted later in life. Three embryos were produced from her eggs, and two were implanted.

"I always believed that I would be a mum and that I would have a baby", she went on. "I didn't stop hoping and now I have this baby - it is a flawless feeling".

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This procedure working out is giving hope to young women all over the world, especially who think it would be hard to conceive after going through therapy for curing cancer, blood or other immune disorders.

"This is a huge step forward", Sara Matthews, Matrooshi's doctor and an expert in gynaecology and fertility, told the BBC.

The ovary remained frozen until a year ago when specialists - including Dr Matthews - arranged for it to be sent to Denmark, where the transplant took place.

Mrs Al Matrooshi still has one embryo in storage as well as two remaining pieces of ovarian tissue. Helen Picton led the division of reproduction and early development at the University of Leeds in England.

This extraordinary and risky case was the evidence that doctors all over the world can use this procedure to restore fertility for all women who undergo chemotherapy by freezing their ovary before puberty. But after marrying at age 20, the couple struggled to conceive naturally as al Matrooshi began displaying peri-menopausal symptoms, such as irregular periods and hot flashes. She has now delivered a healthy baby boy.

Nearly 60 women have had their fertility restored with frozen tissue, since 2001. Over the course of about 15 years, Picton has never met Al Matrooshi - but she would love to someday, she said.

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