Open in App

A mom who got a uterus transplant just had her second child. She's still friends with her donor today.

By Anna Medaris,

Chelsea Jovanovich and her youngest, Stetson.
  • Chelsea Jovanovich was born without a fully formed uterus, and thought she'd never be pregnant.
  • But after a rare uterus transplant from a living donor, she delivered her first son in 2021.
  • Jovanovich just had her second son in October, she told .

Chelsea Jovanovich had always wanted to be a mom, but knew she couldn't carry a pregnancy due to a rare condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome , or MRKH, in which the uterus never fully forms.

"It got really hard going to my friends' baby showers, seeing my friends get married and have families of their own," Jovanovich told .

But then the Montana resident learned of an experimental uterus transplant program at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. After applying and being accepted, she underwent a 12-hour uterus transplant procedure in February 2020.
Chelsea Jovanovich and her husband before her uterine transplant surgery.

The uterus came from Cheryl Urban, a woman who'd already had two children and wanted to help someone else create a family. The two women remain close, according to Today.

After two embryo transfers, Jovanovich became pregnant and delivered her first baby in May 2021. "I went my whole life thinking I wasn't able to carry a child," she told Today back then . "It was like something out of a dream."
Chelsea Jovanovich with her uterine donor, Cheryl Urban.

Then, in October 2022, Jovanovich gave birth to a second son, who's only the 25th baby born to a woman who had a uterus transplant in the US, Dr. Kathleen O'Neill , the lead investigator for the uterus transplant program, told Today.

"I look in my rear-view mirror and there's little feet back there," Jovanovich said. "I don't take for granted all the toys that I pick up. I'm like, 'Thank you, God. This is what I wanted.' And now, I get to do it."

Uterus transplants are still considered 'experimental'

According to Penn Medicine's website , only about 70 uterus transplants have been conducted worldwide, most from living donors. But not all of these transplants have resulted in live pregnancies.

In June 2019, a woman delivered a baby from the transplanted uterus of a deceased donor through a Cleveland Clinic trial, marking the first reported birth of its kind in the US and the second in the world, Insider's Lauren Frias previously reported .

Using a deceased donor, the Cleveland Clinic said, eliminates the risks posed to living donors , like surgical complications including urinary tract infections.

In November 2019, the second US baby was born to a mom with a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor, Insider reported . That mom, like Jovanovich, was part of Penn Medicine's trial, the only one in the country actively enrolling patients for uterus transplants, its website says .

People may be eligible for a uterus transplant if they're born without a uterus, had their uterus removed, or have a nonfunctioning uterus. Research suggests so-called uterine-factor infertility affects about 3% to 5% of the population.

"These women have ovaries, they have eggs, they just don't have the uterus to gestate the pregnancy," O'Neill told Today in 2021 . "Once we're able to give them that uterus, the vast majority get pregnant and have babies."

After they deliver, the uterus is removed so that the women can stop taking drugs intended to prevent the body from rejecting the foreign organ. For Jovanovich, who's moving back to Montana with her husband and boys, that means resuming the "normal" life she never thought she'd have.

"She is like any other mom at this point and Jake's like any other dad," O'Neill told Today. "I mean, they're just a family. That is really professionally and personally one of the best things I've done."

Read the original article on Insider
Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment
Most Popular newsMost Popular

Comments / 0