ABU DHABI // A women with 11 uterine tumours that made her look seven months pregnant has had a successful operation to remove all traces of the growths.
And because she avoided having a hysterectomy, she can still have children.
The tumours, which were diagnosed more than six years ago, weighed a total of three kilograms.
Her uterus "was the same as someone who is seven months pregnant," said Dr Nidal Al Attiyah, the Iraqi-born obstetrics and gynaecology consultant who performed the surgery at Al Noor Hospital.
Dr Al Attiyah discovered the extent of the tumours after conducting an ultrasound. The procedure to remove the growths was problem-free, the doctor said, yet at the same time it was demanding.
A laparotomy was performed to remove the growths, the largest of which weighed in at 2kg.
"It is not a new surgery, but it is very difficult for any surgeon," said the doctor.
She said the surgery took less than an hour.
A laparotomy involves making a large incision in the abdomen. Three incisions, two of which were less than three centimetres, were made, said the doctor. She said she had never before removed so many tumours in one surgery.
The patient, a 38-year-old Somali who lives in the UK, travelled to the UAE for the procedure because the doctors she had consulted previously advised her to have a hysterectomy.
Dr Al Attiyah agreed not to perform a hysterectomy under any circumstances.
"It is a rule in case of big myomas [fibroid tumours], or multiple thyroids in the uterus to take consent of [a] hysterectomy. It is a rule. And the exception is not to do a hysterectomy," said the doctor, who added that no blood transfusions were required during the procedure.
The patient is married and has no children, but did not want to lose the option.
While Dr Attiyah said it was "unbelievable" that the growths were unattended to for so long, the patient said that, even as the tumours grew, she stuck by a doctor's initial advice that the situation was not urgent.
It was a surprise to find how many tumours there were, said the patient. She had first discovered an egg-sized tumour years before, but had been told not to rush into surgery.
"They advised me not to have an operation as it was not big. [The doctor] told me it might damage the uterus so don't rush into any operation unless it is going to be a danger to your life," the patient said.
She discovered there were 11 tumours during a consultation more than a year ago.
Common symptoms of fibroid tumours can include irregular bleeding, constipation and frequent urination.
The patient, who underwent the surgery with a local anaesthetic, said she cannot predict what the future will hold for her.
"You know, it's luck. You never know."