Meenakshi Valand from Bharuch, Gujarat and Shivamma Chalgeri from Solapur, Maharashtra are two very special women, especially for the practitioners of obstetrics and gynaecology in India. In May last year, the two women became India’s first to undergo a uterine transplant, and in a few month’s time, Meenakshi will become the first woman in the country to give birth after a uterine transplant.
Speaking to the Indian Express from her hospital bed in Pune, the 27-year-old expecting mother said,
“I have wanted this baby, and it is just a matter of a few months now. I have to be very strong as this is my final chance of holding a baby in my arms.”
In the last nine years, Meenakshi has had several traumatic experiences. She lost two babies after full-term pregnancies and had to undergo four abortions. These procedures left her with a scarred uterus and Meenakshi, who had always looked forward to being a biological mother had almost lost hope.
That is when she had the chance to become one of India’s first women to undergo a uterus transplant. Meenakshi’s surgery was held on May 19, while Shivamma was the first to get a transplant, on May 18 last year.
The doctors were able to harvest the ovaries of both the women following which sperms were taken from their respective husbands to prepare the embryos.
Four embryos were frozen in Shivamma’s case and eight in Meenakshi’s.
However, since the process of a uterus transplant and the procedures that follow are complex, the embryo transfers did not result in pregnancies for them. Shivamma did not get pregnant even the second time, and her third transplant is scheduled for August 15. Meenakshi’s transplant, however, was successful in her second attempt.
Dr Shailesh Putambekar, the director of Galaxy care hospital, said, “Globally, only eight women have delivered through transplanted uteruses, and hence this is a dream run for us.”
Today, 20 weeks into the pregnancy, Meenakshi, her family and Galaxy Care hospital in Pune are taking extra precautions to make sure everything goes smoothly for the expecting mother. “My diet is monitored, I don’t leave the room due to chances of infection, and one family member is allowed to stay with me. I walk a bit after eating and am resting for the better part of the day,” she told IE.
So far, everything is going well for her, and the doctors hope this remains the case till December when she is expected to give birth. “We are extremely hopeful as she has cleared the critical anomaly scan at the 20th week of pregnancy, which means that the anatomical structure of the foetus is just fine,” said Putambekar.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)