Woman is first to have baby with ovaries frozen in childhood

Moaza Al Matrooshi and her husband, Ahmed, with their new son, Rashid.

Story highlights

  • A woman has given birth after receiving a transplant of her own ovarian tissue
  • She froze the tissue at age 9 ahead of treatment for a blood disorder

(CNN)A 24-year-old Dubai native has become the first woman to give birth after having her fertility restored from ovarian tissue frozen during her childhood.

Moaza al Matrooshi gave birth to a healthy son, Rashid, at the Portland Hospital in London on Tuesday.
    She is the first person in the world to have had a successful pregnancy using ovarian tissue that was harvested before the onset of puberty and the only person to have her ovaries transplanted back after 13 years in storage.
      "I feel so happy to have my baby in my hands now," Al Matrooshi said. "We waited many years to see this."

      The need to freeze her tissue

      As a child, Al Matrooshi was diagnosed with beta thalassaemia -- an inheritable blood disorder reducing a person's ability to carry oxygen in their blood -- and came to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London at the age of 9 to receive a bone marrow transplant from her brother.
        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. She then traveled to a hospital in Leeds ahead of her treatment, and her right ovary was removed and frozen for storage.
        "My mum tried her best to save my ovary tissue," al Matrooshi said.
        Al Matrooshi then underwent her bone marrow transplant and recovered, moving back to Dubai, where she now lives with her husband, Ahmed. 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.
        They returned to London in 2014 and met with Sara Matthews, consultant gynecologist at the Portland Hospital, who would help her regain function of her own ovaries and eventually give birth. After further attempts failed to help the pair conceive naturally, Matthews first sent al Matrooshi home on hormone therapy.
        "I went home without anything and felt so bad," al Matrooshi said. But on her return to the UK in 2015, Matthews had found a surgical team in Denmark willing to work with the frozen tissue and transplant it back into her body in August 2015.
        "It's a very straightforward procedure," Matthews said, adding that her main limitations had been finding teams willing to handle the frozen ovarian tissue after it had been in storage for so long. As a result, the technique "is a very experimental procedure," she said.

        Transplanting the ovaries, bit by bit

        Matthews explained that the transplant itself involved reinserting fragments of al Matrooshi's ovary bit by bit and then waiting for blood vessels to form and infuse into it to make it functional. Because the tissue belonged to the patient, there was no concern about the tissue being rejected and attacked by her immune system.
        Small sections of ovarian tissue were transplanted step by step to result in a fully functional ovary.