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Meet America's second-ever baby to be born from transplanted uterus of deceased donor

Meet America's second-ever baby to be born from transplanted uterus of deceased donor

Jennifer Gobrecht found out at the age of 17 that she was born without a uterus and hence couldn't bear children. However, today she is the mother of an incredibly special baby boy.

Jennifer Gobrecht was 17 when she found out that she was born without a uterus due to a rare condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH). However, she held onto her dream of becoming a mother someday — be it via adoption or surrogacy. However, neither Jennifer nor her husband Drew Gobrecht ever imagined that they would one day play a key role in a groundbreaking trial that could potentially help countless women suffering from infertility. In November, the 33-year-old successfully gave birth via cesarean section to Benjamin Thomas Gobrecht — America's second-ever baby to have been born from the transplanted uterus of a deceased donor. 



 

"Benjamin means so much, not just to Drew and I, but to so many others, and hopefully he'll be able to inspire other couples to try this because it worked and he's here," the new mom told CNN. Little Benjamin's birth — which his overjoyed parents called "a miracle"—was made possible by an ongoing trial to study uterine transplantation as a treatment option for women facing infertility, Penn Medicine in Philadelphia announced earlier this week. Jennifer and Drew, who live outside of Philadelphia, were aware of previous cases of women with transplanted uteruses giving birth before they found out that uterus transplantation could be an option for them too.

 



 

"Being in a community that is the uterine factor infertility community, anything new and exciting is always interesting just to know about," said Jennifer, revealing that she'd considered applying for the trial after coming across a mention of it in a Facebook group. However, Drew had his concerns. "Jen and I were at home talking about whether or not we wanted to participate in this trial and I'm thinking, 'There are all these risks involved and there's a really good chance that we don't end up with a child out of this.' I wasn't not interested in the trial, but I wanted to make sure that this was the right decision for us," he said.

 



 

 

"Then Jen said to me that she didn't want to just participate in this for her and for us as a way to start a family. She wanted the opportunity to potentially help other women who suffer from infertility by being a part of this exploration of the new science. That was the thing that really sold me," Drew added. When Jennifer finally did apply, she was selected as the first patient in Penn Medicine's uterus transplant trial. "It was surreal," the new dad revealed.

 



 

 

Having been accepted to participate in the trial, Jennifer and Drew then had to wait for a donor uterus. Once a donor became available, Jennifer underwent a 10-hour uterus transplant procedure to receive the organ. The procedure involved placing the upside-down pear-shaped organ correctly in the pelvis and connecting the recipient and donor blood vessels. Following the surgery, Jennifer took medications to reduce the risk of her body rejecting the donor organ. Dr. Paige Porrett, an assistant professor of transplant surgery at Penn Medicine who supervised the transplantation, revealed that the organ is typically removed once a baby is delivered in cases of uterine transplantation.

 



 

Six months after her surgery, physicians transferred an embryo made from Jennifer's egg and Drew's sperm into her new uterus and the couple waited 10 excruciating days before receiving blood test results that would reveal whether the embryo transfer was successful and if she was pregnant. "Those 10 days waiting for that phone call was probably the longest 10 days of our lives. The second we got the call, Dr. O'Neill wasted no time to tell us we were pregnant. It's hard to put into words just how much that moment was one of the best moments of my entire life," said Jennifer, adding that both she and Drew "broke down into tears" when they received the news.

 



 

 

"We never thought it was an option for us. We just didn't consider uterus transplant as a possibility. It was just, 'Oh this is a cool news story that will probably help women in the future someday'... It's still all sinking in. One of the most primal urges many of us feel is one to start a family, and the more options people have, people who suffer from infertility, the better," said Drew. Young Benjamin and his overjoyed parents are now doing well as a new family.

 



 

 

Jennifer and Drew's dream of starting a family would not have been possible if not for the Gift of Life donor program—which coordinated the organ donation—and the unidentified woman whose uterus changed their lives. In a press release from Penn Medicine, the donor's mother who wishes to remain unnamed said that her family is "extremely proud" to be a part of Jennifer's journey. "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. Our hearts and prayers go out to my daughter's recipients and their families," she said.

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