CLEVELAND – The road to motherhood isn’t always an easy path, especially for one Pennsylvania mom.
Michelle, 31, was born without a uterus, but after undergoing a uterus transplant, her lifelong dream of becoming a mom finally came true.
“It was hard knowing that I would never be able to carry a child,” Michelle said. “One of my dreams was being able to carry my own.”
Michelle was 16 years old when she learned she had a rare condition.
“All my friends were starting to have periods and I was the only one in school that hadn’t started yet,” Michelle recalled. “We decided to do an ultrasound to see if I had a uterus. I didn’t have one.”
When she married Rich, they thought about adoption but put that idea on the back burner for a while.
One day, Michelle saw an online post about a uterus transplant, and she decided to explore that option.
She went through an in-depth screening process, and doctors determined she was a good candidate for transplant.
“We are basically placing a new uterus into a woman and this will allow them to become pregnant and carry a child of their own,” said Cristiano Quintini, MD, a transplant surgeon at Cleveland Clinic.
Michelle underwent a successful 14-hour uterus transplant at Cleveland Clinic and spent six months recovering at home.
“She got pregnant with her first embryo transfer, which was very exciting, obviously to her, but also to the whole team,” said Uma Perni, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic.
“I didn’t start to feel him kick until like 27 weeks,” Michelle said. “That was one thing I wanted to feel and see was him moving.
In early March 2019, the big day finally arrived.
“I was just trying to concentrate like pretty soon there will be a baby,” Michelle recalled.
Baby Cole spent a week in the neonatal intensive care unit at Cleveland Clinic Children’s before going home in March.
“Most of the time he is very quiet, very easy, smiles,” Rich said.
“To know somebody else’s uterus helped me achieve him and to hold him, it was like the best thing in the world,” Michelle said.
A team of caregivers from more than 12 specialties spent 4 years preparing Michelle to become a mom.
Cleveland Clinic has currently performed eight uterus transplants since 2016 and delivered two babies who were born from deceased donor uteri.