A woman given a vagina grown in a laboratory has spoken of her hope to have a family one day.
She is one of four women born without a vagina who have been given the new treatment, revealed last week.
Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine engineered the organs using the women’s own cells
The new organs have been given to women born with MRKH – Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which the vagina and uterus are underdeveloped or absent
One of the women, interviewed by New Scientist, credits the procedure with giving her a normal life.
She said: ‘At the beginning it wasn’t easy, thinking that a part of your body was going to be made in a laboratory. It was difficult to understand.
‘But as the years pass and with the good results, you find a way of life which is different but not too far from normality.
‘You start from a point where you are scared of everything, of trying anything – you feel you aren’t normal.
|The new organs have been given to women born with MRKH – Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which the vagina and uterus are underdeveloped or absent|
But with time, the support of friends and my partner, and the unconditional support of my mother who gave her all to understand me, I feel I am a very lucky person, fully satisfied.’
The unnamed woman, who lives in Mexico, was 18 when she was diagnosed with MRKH.
She said she had experienced ‘moments of desperation’ – especially when she was told she wouldn’t have children – and the process had been difficult and painful.
But it was worth it – eight years on she says the organ works ‘as if it weren’t made in the lab’ and her body has accepted it incredibly well.
|Eight years on, the woman says the organ works ‘as if it weren’t made in the lab’ and her body has accepted it incredibly well|
The researchers also hope the treatment could be used to help women with vaginal cancer or injuries.She now hopes to have children, despite her options being limited – and dreams of the day she is interviewed surrounded by a large family,
Writing in The Lancet, programme leader Dr Anthony Atala, said: ‘This pilot study is the first to demonstrate that vaginal organs can be constructed in the lab and used successfully in humans.
‘This may represent a new option for patients who require vaginal reconstructive surgeries. In addition, this study is one more example of how regenerative medicine strategies can be applied to a variety of tissues and organs.’
The girls were between 13 and 18 years old at the time of the surgeries, which were performed between June 2005 and October 2008.
Data from annual follow-up visits show that even up to eight years after the surgeries, the organs had normal function.