Ovarian cancer patient beats the odds

Gives birth to healthy baby boy

A young Cayman resident who lost both of her ovaries to ovarian cancer gave birth to a healthy baby boy in May after her sister donated her eggs for in vitro fertilization.

Alina Avraham’s ovarian cancer was discovered in July 2010 during a laparoscopy in Cayman to remove what appeared to be an ovarian cyst. 

Mrs. Avraham, 29, was diagnosed with a tumor on her right ovary, and doctors told her she would need to remove both her ovaries and her uterus right away- a surgery that meant she would never be able to get pregnant. 

At first she was devastated. She was only 25, in a serious relationship, and still had dreams of having children someday. 

Determined not to give up her dreams of motherhood, the young cancer patient opted for surgery to remove the tumorous ovary and use chemotherapy instead of removing the uterus. 

“I wanted to have surgery just to remove the mass … because I was so young and wanted to have my own family,” said Mrs. Avraham. 

A few months later, another cancerous growth was found on her left ovary, and doctors used robot-assisted surgery to remove only the cancerous part of her ovary. But then the following year doctors told her she also had lung cancer and gave her nine months to live. The frightened Romanian national then flew to Baptist Health International in Miami to have a lung biopsy, and the doctors found her lungs were cancer-free. 

“I always knew I was going to get here. I never lost hope and that’s why I always continued and went through so much, because I never wanted to give up on my dream…,” said Mrs. Avraham. 

“Baptist and Miami they understood [my dream], and I managed to be here today and finally to have my son,” she added. 

The road was not without it’s bumps. Over the course of four years Mrs. Avraham was constantly traveling back and forth from Cayman to Miami, had 17 surgeries, countless chemotherapy sessions, and even walked down a wedding isle as a bride. But the cancer kept coming back.  

After two years, Mrs. Avraham opted for the hysterectomy she had been avoiding, to stop the cancer from returning. 

“I was tired of the chemo and all the surgery. I realized I fought enough and I could not get rid of [the cancer],” said Mrs. Avraham. 

Miami-based gynecologic oncologist Nicholas Lambrou performed the final surgery on Mrs. Avraham. But little did she know the doctor removed the ovaries but left her uterus intact. 

“The doctor surprised me when I woke up, because he never removed the uterus – which gave me the chance to finally have a baby.” 

“With younger patients like Alina, whose cancer is caught early…we want to look at preserving their fertility,” Dr. Lambrou said in a press release. 

“I woke up with my sister crying all over me telling me that I’m cancer-free, and the doctor told me we have a surprise for you… that was the best news of my life, just to know that I would be able to be a mother,” she said. 

Since Mrs. Avraham had no viable ovaries, her sister Ramona Bogdan offered to donate her eggs. The pair then went to see a fertility specialist in Costa Rica and Panama last year and the process was finished in two weeks.  

“She had to go under treatment with injections and hormonal treatment,” said Mrs. Avraham. “She had 18 eggs but only seven survived to reach in the stage of embryo.” 

Through the process of in vitro fertilization with the help of her sister’s eggs, Mrs. Avraham and her husband Avi Avraham were able to conceive a child. 

The pregnancy was not without its challenges, however. 

“Throughout the pregnancy there were lots of treatments, over 16 injections just to be able to support the pregnancy because my body had been through a lot,” said Mrs. Avraham. 

Despite the pregnancy being high risk, she said, “My son was a fighter just like his mom, and he made it.”  

Mrs. Avraham delivered her son Ari at South Miami Hospital on May 27. He weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces. 

“We are enjoying every second with friends and family,” Mrs. Avraham said. “They are calling him the miracle baby because he is a miracle.”  

Mrs. Avraham plans to have another baby next year using her sister’s two remaining eggs, which are currently being preserved in Panama.  

“I had great support- my husband’s sister, family friends… you can never give up. Most people are losing the battle because they give up,” said Mrs. Avraham. 

Mom-baby

Mrs. Avraham gave birth to a healthy boy Ari. Her friends call him a miracle.

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