But this is no joke. I’m so amazed and thankful to live in a day and age where reproductive technology exists, and continues to evolve, to help those diagnosed with infertility have a chance at building a family. I’ll say right up front that there are no guarantees that the treatments available will work for everyone, and in fact, they often don’t. Still, science gives us a chance at something that not too long ago, we wouldn’t even have a shot at.
Today I came across a headline that stunned me: “In a first, a woman with a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor gives birth.” I mean just wow – let that sink in. The article explains that there have been 11 babies born to women who have had uterus transplants from live donors (talk about a generous donation), but this is the first from a deceased donor. That opens some interesting doors. Personally, I’m all for organ donation. After all, I really don’t need my parts when I’m gone and if I could help the living, well, all the better. You can find the article here in Science News.
The uterus came from a 45-year-old woman who died of a stroke and had 3 children of her own. The recipient was 32-years-old and had a frozen embryo transferred into her newfound uterus, following IVF that was done a few months before the uterus transplant. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Congrats mama! IVF is hard enough, and IVF pregnancies can be marked with significant worry about all the things that “could” go wrong at any moment to take away all our happiness. But image the fortitude it takes to be the woman doing something like this? To be a scientific “first,” and all the fears that come along with those unknowns. She’s a rock star in my book.
I often wonder what reproductive technology will bring us in the decades to follow. What will be discovered to improve IVF rates? Hone PGS testing (because that’s one area with a lot of room for improvement and important potential if it can live up to the hype)? Improve donor egg and embryo success rates? Reduce repeat losses? Revive aging eggs? What will lift the veil on “unexplained infertility”? There are so many questions that still need answered. And so many treatments that can be improved upon. What will the future look like?
One thing is for sure, the future won’t be as bright until we have insurance coverage for everyone diagnosed with infertility. I know what an IVF cycle cost out of pocket, and I can only imagine what a uterus transplant would cost. Yikes! I can’t speak to infertility treatment coverage in other countries, although I image all have their pros and cons, but here in the US, it’s abysmal. Shameful, really. When so many women and men cannot get the medical treatment they need for infertility, and money ends up being the limiting factor in the ability to address a medical condition and build a family, there is something seriously wrong with our values as a culture.
So as this amazing science evolves, I can only hope that we can get to a place where these reproductive treatments are available to those who are suffering and need them. We need this.