Hope for cancer patients as woman could become first to have baby using ovary taken as a child
Hope for cancer victims, after 23-year-old whose ovaries were removed at the age of just eight could become the first in the world to give birth to a child, using ovarian tissue taken in her childhood
Published 20/03/2016 | 16:53
Surgeons are to implant a woman with an ovary frozen when she was a child, so that she can become a mother, in a world first.
The UK case involves a young woman of 23, who had her ovary removed and frozen at the age of just eight.
If treatment succeeds, Moaza Alnatrooshi will be the first woman in the world to become pregnant after having an ovary frozen before the onset of puberty.
If successful, the breakthrough will give hope to thousands of other girls who are unable to conceive because their reproductive organs have been damaged by treatment for cancer and other diseases.
Last year medics in Belgium revealed that they had managed to restore the fertility of a young women using frozen ovary tissue which had been removed when she was 13.
The 28 year old woman, whose tissue was taken and frozen before she chemotherapy as a teenager, gave birth to a healthy baby boy in November 2014.
But the current case is the first to involve a female patient whose ovaries were taken long before puberty began.
Moaza Alnatrooshi had her ovaries removed because she was being treated for beta thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder, at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
She had chemotherapy, which damages the ovaries, before a bone marrow transplant.
Specialists in freezing techniques were able to preserve the organ, in the hope it would allow her to one day have a family.
The ovary remained frozen until last year when Mrs Alnatrooshi’s doctor, Sara Matthews, a consultant gynaecologist at the private Portland Hospital for women and children in London, arranged for it to be sent to Denmark, where the transplant took place.
The patient and her husband, Ahmed then underwent IVF to increase their chances of pregnancy. Three embryos have been produced – one of which is expected to be implanted next month.
Mrs Alnatrooshi, who is from Dubai but is staying in Britain for her treatment, told the Sunday Times: "My mum did this huge thing for me which is that she froze my ovary and saved it for me until I grew up and used it.
"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."
Dr Matthews said the breakthrough could help many more women in future.
"This allows young girls who develop cancer or have other conditions that require chemotherapy, like beta thalassaemia, to have children where the vast majority, over 90 per cent would not be able to have their own children," she said.
"There is no other way at the moment to do it. You cannot grow eggs. You can't do IVF [before the chemotherapy] because they haven't gone through puberty. It is the only option for them and we have been able to prove that, in practice, it works."
Professor Claus Yding Andersen of Copenhagen University, who organised the operation in Denmark, said: "If Moaza becomes pregnant this will be the first pregnancy where eggs were derived from ovarian tissue removed at an early age, prior to puberty. Just the fact that such eggs can be fertilised successfully raises hope for the many young girls who will, unfortunately, experience childhood cancer.
"Hopefully this case will lead to the more widespread use of this procedure in the UK."
The first whole ovary transplant occured in 2008.