Dr. Giuliano Testa, a transplant surgeon at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas who led the medical team that performed the first successful uterus transplants in the United States, said Tuesday that he hopes “what we are doing is going to shed light on infertility for women.”
“I personally never knew it was such a widespread issue,” Testa said at the TIME 100 Gala on Tuesday. “We should be thinking about it not just as a birth, but a wellbeing issue.”
Testa attended the TIME 100 Gala after being named by TIME magazine as one of the most influential people in the world for his role in helping women give birth via uterus transplant.
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Women who participate in Testa’s trial have absolute uterine factor infertility (AUI), which means their uterus is nonfunctioning or nonexistent. Most of the women have a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which means they were born without a uterus and lived their entire lives under the assumption that they would never be able to be pregnant or give birth to a baby. The procedure can also work for women with other medical issues, such as certain cancers.
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In a tribute to Testa for the 2018 TIME 100, the first woman who gave birth to a baby via uterus transplant (and who wishes to remain anonymous) recalled giving birth to a healthy baby boy in November. “As I held him in my arms, I caught Dr. Testa’s eye,” she wrote. “He had worked so hard to make this happen—not just for me, but for the millions of families who have been told that parenthood through pregnancy is impossible.”