REAL LIFE

World first: A womb transplant gave me a baby

"I didn’t even need to ask – it was like borrowing a sweater!"

Lolita Wasterlund, 38, got the ultimate gift from her big sister.

Here, Lolita, tells the story in her own words.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I wrote in my diary, Please, can someone give me a uterus?

I was 14 and I’d been to the doctors about an ongoing pain in my abdomen.

After having an endoscopy, I’d been told I didn’t have a womb. I was even more devastated when the doctor confirmed it meant I couldn’t have kids.

Even though I was only young, being a mum was all I’d dreamed of.

‘I don’t want children, you can have my uterus,’ my sister Linda, 18, offered.

I was grateful, but I knew that was never going to happen, she couldn’t just give it away!

My big sister Linda and me
My big sister Linda and me

At school, I felt like a freak, especially when all the other girls got their periods. So I kept my condition a secret.

When Linda got older and fell in love, she changed her mind about a family, and at 20, she gave birth to her gorgeous boy, Jonathan.

I loved being an aunty, but my heart still ached for a child of my own.

‘You can have my uterus when I’m done,’ Linda said.

It was kind, but I dismissed it again.

Then, when I was 19, my mum Chris showed me an article in the newspaper.

It discussed how womb, or uterus, transplants were being trialled by Professor Mats Brännström.

They’d started with rodents and were now moving on to other animals.

‘I can’t believe it,’ I gasped. ‘Could I finally get a chance to become a mum?’

Tracking down Professor Brännström’s number, I gave him a call and explained my situation. He said that it was very early days and he couldn’t promise anything. So I tried to get on with life, but the experiment was always at the back of my mind.

Aged 25, I met Patrik. As we grew closer he told me he didn’t want children.

‘That’s good, because I can’t have them,’ I said.

Then, in May 2011, Mum showed me another article. It was an update on the womb transplant – they were ready to try on humans.

Me and my miracle bub
Me and my miracle bub

Surgeons could place a womb inside me, I could have a baby, then they’d take it out again as it’s only temporary. Knowing how much it meant to me, Patrik was happy to go ahead.

So, heart racing, I typed out an email to Professor Brännström’s secretary.

Incredibly, she scheduled me an appointment for that September. And when I told Linda, she said immediately, ‘I’ll give you mine.’  I didn’t even need to ask her, it was like borrowing a sweater!

By now, Linda had three more kids – Joshua, nine, Joivanni, seven, and Angelina, three – and her family was complete.

Four months later, Patrik and I went to meet Professor Brännström.

‘You have Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome,’ he told me.

It meant I’d been born without a womb, and I only had one kidney. It was the first time I’d learnt the name of my condition. He also explained that if we wanted a baby, Patrik and I should undergo IVF to check we could produce viable embyros. Then Linda and I would have the transplant surgery.

‘It’s likely that the uterus may never carry a baby,’ he warned us.

But Patrik and I wanted to try.

Amazingly, we got 10 healthy embryos.

In March 2013, after an agonisingly long wait, Linda and I were taken to surgery. ‘I love you,’ I said to my sister.

My beautiful boy, Cash
My beautiful boy, Cash

Waking up after, the surgeon confirmed it had been a success, making us the only sisters in the world to undergo a womb transplant.

It was amazing news, but I still had a long way to go.

I needed anti-rejection medication and we had to wait a year until we could start the IVF. In the meantime, I experienced terrible stomach cramps.

Initially, I didn’t know what they meant.

‘It’s just your period,’ Linda said, before coming over armed with sanitary pads.

I suddenly had such admiration for all the women that go through this every month – it was so painful!

After five devastating tries at IVF with no success, in 2014 – on our sixth attempt – I could barely believe my eyes when I saw two lines appear on the pregnancy test – it’d worked!

Telling Patrik the news when he came home, I burst into tears of happiness.

‘We’re going to be parents!’ he cried.

We’re so happy to be parents!
We’re so happy to be parents!

In June 2015, I gave birth to a beautiful boy, who we named Cash-Douglas.

‘It feels so surreal,’ I beamed.

I couldn’t believe I’d become a mum.

Cash was the fourth baby in the world to be born via a womb transplant.

I was offered the chance to try for another bub, but my kidney wasn’t coping well with the transplant and I decided to have the womb removed.

When Linda and I told my niece, Angelina, what her mum had done for me, we described the womb as a ‘baby bag’. And Angelina and Cash, now three, call each other ‘bag cousins’!

I’ve chosen to share my story so that if there’s another 14-year-old girl out there without a womb, she knows that she’s not alone.

It means the world to finally be a mum and Linda will never know how grateful I am.

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life, on sale now.

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