DALLAS -- "I have delivered thousands of babies, as evidenced by my gray hair," Baylor Scott & White Dr. Robert Gunby laughed at a press conference Monday. "Every single one is very exciting, but there was something about this that was so special that...sorry, I'm an emotional person..." he said, tears in his eyes. "There was something so exciting about this because the patients were so excited."
That something he referenced was a medical miracle in Dallas, the first of its kind in the United States, that allowed a baby boy the chance to be formed and born.
It was a full uterine transplant.
"As young women, 14 to 16 years of age, they're told that they never have a chance to have their own babies and carry their own babies. This is providing those women hope," Baylor Scott & White Dr. Colin Koon said.
There are plenty of existing options for having children, of course.
"This is not the solution. This is one of the solutions," said Principal Investigator for the Uterus Transplant Trial, Giuliano Testa. "If a woman has absolute uterine infertility, this is just one solution out there, just like adoption or surrogacy in some states."
But tuning in to those women -- the ones with Uterine Factor Infertility, RMKH, or other medical abnormalities of the uterus -- and their desire to birth their own child is the driving force of this innovative science.
"It was probably the one thing that, as a man and as a father even, I totally underestimated," Testa said.
What does it take to make it happen? Well, it's not a kidney transplant.
"Generally, we see the organ working immediately so the life saving, life giving aspect is seen immediately," said Baylor Scott & White transplant surgeon Tiffany Anthony. "With the uterus transplant it was much more of a process. Having a donor, transplanting the uterus, waiting to see if the uterus became functional, then waiting to see if we would have implantation of the embryo and that the patient would become pregnant, and then all of our OBGYN colleagues insuring that the woman stayed healthy and that the baby stayed healthy during the pregnancy. There's a lot less of the immediate gratification that we normally get with our transplants, but definitely worth it."
"Every sniffle she had, every time she fell, we were just panicked that something was gonna happen to the pregnancy," Gunby said.
The 24/7 bubble wrap treatment paid off.
Mom and baby are doing great, and the unnamed family said:
"Last month, with the help of Baylor Scott & White, we were able to add a beautiful baby boy to our family after a successful uterine transplant. We consider ourselves profoundly blessed to have been a part of this study, and we are optimistic that this initial success will lead to many more in the future. We humbly hope that our little boy can serve as an inspiration to those struggling with infertility, and demonstrate throughout his life that no matter what obstacles are in your path, with the right team working beside you, anything is possible."
When asked the baby's name, the doctors declined, but one suggested "Baby Number Nine" while another said "Beautiful Baby Boy".
The "No. 9" refers to the fact that the procedure has been responsible for eight babies born in Sweden. In fact, two of those mothers have had multiple kids after the transplant. When they're completely done having children, the uterus is removed so that the mother can stop taking immunosuppressant drugs that keep the body from rejecting the new organ.
More importantly, the hopelessness of infertility is removed also.
"When you see this boy, you really feel like you did something beautiful, pure, natural," Testa said.
With ten others in the program already, and at least 200 who have contacted Baylor Scott & White about it, this is just the start.