Donated-womb baby is only the first
By Maria Cheng ASSOCIATED PRESS
BEN JARY ASSOCIATED PRESS His mom says Vincent, the first baby born after a womb transplant, makes sounds more like a kitten.
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — The world’s first baby born from a transplanted womb will have company soon.
Two more women who became pregnant after having womb transplants are due to deliver in the next few weeks — and that could be the start of a wave of babies born this way, say the Swedish doctors who pioneered the technique.
“It means a lot to me that we are able to help patients who have tried for so long to have families,” said Dr. Mats Brannstrom, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Gothenburg, who led the project that brought about last month’s pioneering birth. “This is the last piece of the puzzle in finding a treatment for all women with infertility problems.”
Brannstrom predicted that there soon would be many more babies born to women who have received donated wombs in countries where doctors are studying the technique, including the United States, Australia, Britain, China and Japan.
Brannstrom said he also has started work on trying to grow a womb in the lab. That involves taking a womb from a deceased donor, stripping it of its DNA, then using cells from the recipient to line the structure. He has started preliminary tests in animals and estimated that it would be five years before the technique could be tried on people.
While that might sound like science fiction, the techniques that led to the birth announced last week also sounded outlandish just years ago. “It makes what was formerly impossible possible,” said Dr. Nannette Santoro, chairwoman of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado. She was not involved in Brannstrom’s research.
The happy couple in Sweden named their son Vincent — which means to conquer — to celebrate a victory over their difficult journey to parenthood.
Welcoming a reporter into her home, the mother cradled her sleeping baby in a stylish kitchen where an errant pacifier on the counter was one of the only clues that a newborn was around.
She said she still could not believe she is a mother, after discovering at 15 that she had no womb and being told that she would never carry her own children. Now 36, she was one of nine women to receive a transplanted womb last year in a groundbreaking trial led by Brannstrom. The mother spoke on condition that the exact location of her home not be revealed; and said she never thought she might be the first to deliver a baby from a transplanted womb.
Her husband said the couple will be forever grateful to the 61-year-old woman who donated her uterus, the mother of one of his best friends. The woman — now the boy’s godmother — made the offer after hearing about the difficulties the young couple was having in starting a family. “What she did for us was so amazing and selfless that the words thank you don’t seem like enough,” the father said.
These days, the new parents are busy marveling at their baby’s expressive face and remarkably calm nature. “He doesn’t really scream but he makes these funny little sounds,” the mother said, comparing him to a kitten. Although his crib has a welcoming teddy bear and blankets, she said her son prefers to sleep between his parents in their bed.
She and her husband said they haven’t quite figured out how they will tell their son that he made medical history. “We will show him all the articles that were written and tell him everything we went through to get him,” she said. “Maybe he will be inspired to become a doctor.”
This is so remarkable. . .and so difficult to wrap my mind around. Also, the concept of being born without a uterus – – how does this happen? Can’t even imagine living with that! I had longed for the day that I could have a child since I was quite young, but after 7 years, I had kinda accepted that it wasn’t going to happen. We had been through it all and nothing was wrong with either one of us we were told. We had a good life and were happy, fully engaged, but for me, this longing, the void. . . didn’t go away.
Was busy showing my Silky Terrier “Marko” to championship, first west of the Rockies and third in country (having emerged from the Miscellaneous category), so I was happy, busy and excited (never done such a thing before). . .so not having a baby wasn’t on my mind. When I began to feel funny, my doctor took a look at me and then rang me up a few days later with the news that I was in fact on target for a child. . . at last. Other than morning sickness which lasted all day til almost dinner time for months, it was a great pregnancy without a problem, but of course I didn’t eat much and was on fire with activity. Had to put together my new life for a baby, and I did it all like some kind of mad woman. . . .what fun it was. . . . . . so long ago. Jan