The second-ever birth as a result of a uterine transplant from a deceased donor has occurred in the US, and it’s been a triumph for everyone involved.
The baby was born via c-section at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, as part of a Penn Medicine trial called the Uterus Transplantation for Uterine Factor Infertility (UNTIL).
Born with no uterus
Penn Today reports that new mum Jennifer Gobrecht was born with a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which means in Jennifer’s case she has functional ovaries but not a fully formed uterus. It’s a condition that affects 1 in 4,500 women and means they can neither become pregnant nor carry a baby.
Jennifer and her husband Drew had been exploring the option of using a gestational carrier, and so had undergone IVF to obtain their own biological child. Their embryos were in storage when the opportunity to be part of this very special transplant program arose.
Jennifer then had successful transplant surgery, meaning she was given the uterus of a woman who had died, followed by an embryo transfer procedure.
All of which went very well because Jennifer and Drew are now the proud parents of a little boy named Benjamin Thomas.
“One of the hardest days of my life was when I was 17 years old and learned I would never be able to carry my own child. My husband and I have always wanted to grow our family, but we knew the limited options meant it might never happen,” Jennifer explains.
“Now here we are, in spite of everything, holding our beautiful baby boy. Benjamin is a perfect miracle. It’s all thanks to a truly incredible team of doctors and nurses and the selfless donor who made my dream of motherhood come true.”
Jennifer says that she entered the trial not only because she wanted to have a baby, but because she wanted to contribute to the research efforts.
“When I signed up for this trial, I hoped it would help my husband and me start a family, but I also strongly believe in helping others. My hope is that through this research, others with similar struggles will have the same opportunity.”
“Still many unknowns”
Kathleen O’Neill is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-principal investigator of this trial. She says the success of Jennifer’s transplant is really promising.
“While there are still many unknowns about uterus transplantation, we know now—as evidenced by Jen and baby Benjamin—that this is potentially a viable option for some women,”
The team behind this amazing birth hope they will go on to help thousands of other parents.
Everyone’s a winner
The family of the woman who donated her uterus are thrilled by wee Benjamin’s arrival too.
“Our family is extremely proud to support transplantation that will enable more women to experience the joy of childbirth. My daughter was the best mother I ever knew; nothing was more important to her than her children. What a beautiful and fitting legacy for her to help give the gift of motherhood to another woman,” the donor’s mother says.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to my daughter’s recipients and their families.”
Top image source: YouTube/Penn Medicine