Uterine transplants are being trialled in the US to help women who can’t conceive achieve their dreams of a family.
Making a difference
Now mum-of-five Aprill Lane spent many years dealing with fertility struggles before she finally was able to have children.
Last year, Aprill decided to help others who may find themselves in the position she was once in. She donated her uterus so that another woman could conceive and carry a baby.
“Infertility really, aside from the physical effects of it, it emotionally and socially affects you in a huge way,” Aprill told ABC News. “If I could help one other person be relieved of some of that, I would.”
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As Aprill slowly built her own family via adoption, natural conception and IVF she helped to run support groups for couples struggling with infertility and even started a fund to help infertile couples pay for fertility treatments.
When Aprill heard that uterus transplants were being conducted via a series of clinical trials at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, she knew she wanted in.
“Women who are candidates for uterus transplants may have been born without a uterus, may have had cancer or may have other malformations, like infection or damage caused by miscarriages,” the ABC explains.
An emerging treatment for infertility
Aprill and her husband reasoned that they had finished building their family and were keen to make a real difference to another couple.
“We knew pretty quickly after I got the call that I was selected [for the trial] that I was going to do it,” she says.
The surgery took approximately nine hours to complete. Once Aprill’s uterus was removed it was examined to ensure it was a good match for the recipient and then transplanted into the recipient’s abdomen.
This is a relatively new approach to treating infertility and it’s hoped that eventually uterine transplants will be routinely done with uteruses from consenting deceased donors.
The first successful birth from a uterine transplant from a deceased donor was in Brazil in 2018. Prior to that, there had been a number of successful births via living donors.
“They form incredible bonds”
In the case of living donors and recipients in the trial, Aprill is part of, both parties have the chance to meet sometime after the surgeries, if they want to.
“A lot [of the women] are meeting afterwards and they form incredible bonds,” Aprill’s surgeon Dr Liza Johannesson explained.
She revealed that one transplant donor became godmother to her recipient’s baby.
“If I could help just one family, that’s healing for me,” Aprill said.