A new option is available to thousands of women who are unable to have children.
Uterine transplants are now available outside of clinical trials, making them a consumer option for women who are completely infertile due to uterine factor.
Absolute uterine factor infertility is a condition in which a woman cannot get pregnant because she does not have a uterus or her uterus is no longer functioning properly.
A woman can be born with this condition, or she can acquire it — usually during a hysterectomy.
Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas is the world’s first program To offer uterine transplants outside of clinical trials, giving women with this type of infertility a chance to become pregnant, carry their baby and have a successful delivery.
“We’re talking about half a million women of childbearing age in the United States alone who are infertile,” said Dr. Lisa Johansson, medical director for uterine transplantation at Baylor University Medical Center.
Until now, the path to creating a family for women infertile due to uterine factor has included surrogacy and/or adoption.
The uterine transplant option can cost up to $300,000, twice the cost of surrogacy or adoption options, however, a woman can have two children with a donated uterus.
Like most infertility options, health insurance doesn’t cover nearly everything on the uterine transplant journey, which is something Johansson said she thinks should change.
“This is a bigger topic than uterine transplantation because we have to look at infertility in general. We have to start paying for IVF, procedures like myomectomy, that might help with infertility, and those things that aren’t covered as well,” she said. “We have to look at women’s health in general and we have to call infertility its name. It’s a disease.”
Jennifer and Jason Dingle of Arlington were part of the clinical trial and succeeded in becoming parents through the Uterine Transplant Program at BUMC Dallas.
They welcomed two daughters, now 1 and 3, before surgeons removed the donated uterus from Jennifer’s body.
She was born without a uterus and was told in her early teenage years that she would never have children.
“I think every little girl, her dream is to grow up, get married and have children, and my dream has come true,” Dingell said. “I was told it would never be a possibility, but I followed our dreams and made them come true.”
Johansson said there is no shortage of women willing to donate their wombs and she expects the program to grow.