In a world first, surgeons will implant a 23-year-old woman with her frozen ovary so she can become a mother.
Moaza Alnatrooshi’s ovary was removed and frozen when she was 8 years old and being treated for a genetic blood disorder known as beta thalassemia, the Telegraph reported. At a hospital in London, Alnatrooshi underwent chemotherapy – an ovary-damaging procedure – prior to a bone marrow transplant.
Freezing enables specialists to preserve her organ in hopes of Alnatrooshi bearing a child one day. In a procedure offering hope for thousands who are unable to conceive due to damaged reproductive organs from cancer and other disorders, she will become the first in the world to turn pregnant after her ovary was frozen before puberty set in.
Alnatrooshi said the ovary-freezing technique was her mother’s idea.
"I want to believe I will be pregnant. I cannot wait for that day. I would like to say to all women that they have got to have hope,” the patient, who lives in Dubai but stays in the UK for her forthcoming operation, told the Sunday Times.
In 2015, Alnatrooshi’s attending gynecologist, Dr. Sara Matthews, arranged for the frozen ovary to be sent to Denmark, where the transplant occurred. The patient and her husband underwent in-vitro fertilization, where one of the three embryos produced is hoped to be implanted next month.
In Belgium last year, experts said they were able to restore another young woman’s fertility using ovary tissue that had been frozen when she was 13. Now age 28, the woman already gave birth to a healthy male infant in November 2014 – a symbol of hope for girls whose fertility is threatened by chemotherapy and similar treatments.
Of young girls who experience childhood cancer and require chemotherapy, a glaring 90 percent would be unable to have their own kids, warned Dr. Matthews. And there is no other way to do it at the moment.
“You cannot grow eggs. You can't do IVF [prior to chemotherapy] because they haven't gone through puberty,” the doctor explained.
Ovarian transplant has been studied in Denmark, where 41 female cancer survivors whose ovarian tissues were removed from 2003 to 2014 all underwent the operation. Of the 32 who aimed to bear a child, 10 successfully became pregnant and gave birth.
Around the globe, more than 36 babies are both out of ovarian transplant.
Photo: Richard Leeming | Flickr