A 24-year old has become the first woman to give birth after a transplant of ovarian tissue that was taken before puberty.
Moaza al Matrooshi from Dubai gave birth at the Portland hospital in London this week, following a transplant last year of one of her ovaries, which had been removed and frozen when she was nine years old.
Dr Sara Matthews, a consultant in gynaecology and fertility who treated al Matrooshi, told the BBC: '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'.
Al Matrooshi was diagnosed as a child with beta thalassaemia, a hereditary blood disease that reduces a person's ability to carry oxygen in their blood. As there was a risk that the treatment – which included a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy – would leave her infertile, doctors removed one of her ovaries for cryopreservation.
In 2016, a Danish surgical team transplanted five slivers of the ovarian tissue back into her body. Although Al Matrooshi had been menopausal as a result of her chemotherapy, within three months her hormone levels returned to normal and her periods returned. Al Matrooshi and her husband then underwent IVF, which has now resulted in the successful birth of their healthy child.
'It's like a miracle,' Al Matrooshi told the BBC. 'We've been waiting so long for this result: a healthy baby.'
Professor Helen Picton, who leads the division of reproduction and early development at the University of Leeds, carried out the ovary freezing. Also speaking to the BBC, she said: '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,' said Professor Picton.
Commenting on the news, Professor Richard Anderson of the University of Edinburgh said: 'The effect of treatment for cancer and some other serious conditions on fertility is a major concern to those facing those treatments, and this provides a great boost showing a way forward for young girls.'