Woman has baby using ovary tissue frozen in childhood

A woman has given birth following the re-insertion of her ovary tissue, which was frozen at the age of nine prior to treatment for beta thalassaemia

A 24-year old woman has given birth to her son at London’s The Portland Hospital using ovary tissue frozen in childhood. Moaza Al Matrooshi is though to be the first woman in the world to have a baby after having an ovary frozen before the onset of puberty.

Moaza, who is from Dubai, was born with beta thalassaemia – an inherited blood disorder that is fatal if left untreated. She needed chemotheraphy – which damages the ovaries – and received a bone marrow transplant from her brother at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Prior to this treatment, she had her right ovary removed in an operation in Leeds, where the tissue was frozen. Her mother had wanted Moaza to have the procedure, in the hope that she might still be able to have a family of her own later in life.

Moaza’s doctor, Sara Matthews, a consultant in gynaecology and fertility, said; “This is a huge step forward. We know that ovarian tissue transplantation works for older women, but we’ve never known if we could take tissue from a child, freeze it and make it work again. Within three months of re-implanting her ovarian tissue, Moaza went from being menopausal to having regular periods again. She basically became a normal woman in her 20s with normal ovary function.”

Last year, surgeons in Denmark transplanted five slivers of the ovarian tissue back into her body; four were stitched onto her failed let ovary, which had become damaged during chemotherapy, and one on the side of her uterus. Moaza had been going through the menopause, but after the transplant her hormone levels began returning to normal; she began ovulating and her fertility was restored. She underwent IVF with her husband, Ahmed, to maximise their chances of having a child.

Moaza spoke of her joy at becoming a mother; “We’ve been waiting so long for this result – a healthy baby. I always believed that I would be a mum and that I would have a baby. I didn’t stop hoping and now I have this baby – it is a perfect feeling.”

Professor Helen Picton, who leads the division of reproduction and early development at the University of Leeds, carried out the ovary freezing. She told the BBC; “This is incredibly encouraging. Moaza is a pioneer and was one of the first patients we helped back in 2001, before any baby had been born from ovary tissue preservation. Worldwide more than 60 babies have been born from women who had their fertility restored, but Moaza is the first case from pre-pubertal freezing and the first from a patient who had treatment for beta thalassaemia.”

Moaza’s case gives hope to those who risk losing the chance of motherhood due to treatment for cancer, blood or immune disorders. Researchers in Leeds have been at the forefront of ovarian tissue freezing; thousands of girls and young women now have frozen ovarian tissue in storage. Moaza still has one embryo in storage as well as two remaining pieces of ovarian tissue, and plans to have another baby in the future.