A winter vacation at home

Our Christmas holiday disappeared in the flu. Which we made up for with an extra week’s winter vacation now in February. Two weeks at home with nothing but stay-at-home-cosiness. It goes surprisingly smoothly.

The first week of vacation starts with a snowstorm, whereupon travel by car is abandon. Instead, we go bobbing one day and plod in the non ploughed city environment to the bowling alley another day. (One thing we never thought we would do. Plod in snow when you don’t have to, that is). The kids play for a while but then think it is more fun to jump up and down on a seat cushion. Unfortunately, the lack of perseverance seems to be a trait inherited from me. My first series goes pretty well, the rest goes less well. That was probably why I ended up with bowling once in a while. I wasn’t good enough in series three and four.

The kids are at Dad’s job one day. Which if you ask them is the most enjoyable thing with any leave. To go loose completely on a lot of instruments. Drum, marimba, chimes – everything that you can bang on is of course highly appreciated. I love that my children get to grow up surrounded by music. And that Vera exclaims “I love music” is of course music in my husband’s ears.

Henry loves to be at home he. But then of course he misses his best friend E. Which we to Henry’s happiness deal with that dad and Henry go home to E and play for a while. Vera and I instead go to the playground and swing, to her happiness. “Higher mother, higher”. To our happiness, the children sleep one hour longer than usual the next day.

We go to the coffee house. Henry wants a brownie with cream instead of his standard, the chocolate ball. Parents of children with selective eating disorder (yep, it’s a real thing), you understand how big this is. That he chooses something else. That he tastes something for him, brand new. And it doesn’t stop there. Before the vacation has come to an end, he has tasted both orange and homemade pizza. I am still completely shocked. But cautiously optimistic. Is it now, the winter vacation 2019, things are beginning to turn?

We relax a lot. Watch movies and play restaurant and shop. Henry plays Mario Kart, Mario Party and Mario Odessey, Vera paints. Tint pens, ink pens, watercolor, acrylic paint. She has a thousand ideas and every idea she performs with equally great dedication and determination. Don’t dare to interrupt her when she is in her flow.

The husband uses the vacation to practises his trumpet little every day. I use it to read books and clear wardrobes, two activities of equal enjoyment. A dentist’s appointment and a eye infection book their way into my winter vacation. And suddenly two weeks have gone by. The snow that lay in drifts on the streets is practically gone and it is almost spring in the air. Very and little can happen in two weeks.

Read more about the article Not a day too soon
First baby born to woman with uterus transplanted from deceased donor

Not a day too soon

The first time they transplant an organ successfully, it´s said to have have been in 1954. The first time they try to transplant a uterus is far later, in year 2000. Still, most people in the field say that the attempt is done way too early and without sufficient knowledge. This because the attempt fails. In 2007, the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden invites researchers and experts worldwide to “The First International Symposium on Uterine Transplantation”. I’m there. During the meeting, they discuss all possible aspects of uterine transplantation – rejection mechanisms, immunosuppression, surgical technique, pregnancy and everything there in between. It is clear that there is a lot of research that remains before a human transplant can be carried out.

After more than ten years of research, the Swedish team feels ready. In September 2012, they operate for the first time on a woman. Me. The unique thing in their research project is that the transplanted uterus comes from a living donor. My mom. The operation is followed by a further eight. In total, there are nine transplant cases in their study, all involving living donors. The majority of the world’s scientists would rather see that a uterine transplant is done using a deceased donor. The operation is simpler and does not need to take the donor into account. It also makes more wombs available to women who need them. The disadvantage is that it is impossible to get a complete overview and history of both the donor and uterus.

A race within the race

Sweden is the first to report on the first successful uterine transplant. However, it could have been Turkey. A Turkish plastic surgeon wants to try to make the historic breakthrough and operate a few years before Sweden. He uses a deceased donor. An American transplant surgeon who participates in the Swedish operations also decides to operate with a deceased donor. None of them has so far succeeded. For the thing with uterine transplant (and quite different from any other transplant), is that the surgery is not successful until the patient becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child.

At a medical congress in 2017, scientists gather again to share their worldwide experience of uterine transplants. This time they are significantly more. It’s a loaded and somewhat secretive atmosphere in the room. Several countries have made attempts with transplants and rumors say that some of the women may even be pregnant. It’s a lot of prestige. A race. Everyone wants to be the one who is first across the finish line and with results that impress the others. Nobody wants to be the one who makes a fool of himself. 

Another team in the United States has done operations. So even countries such as Mexico, Brazil, China, Germany, the Czech Republic and Serbia. In addition to Turkey, which only transplanted one woman, most seem to have followed on Sweden’s example and involved a series of women in the study. It is a little too much by chance that it would be successful in one single woman. Some have used live donors, some deceased. Some have even done both. In order to really compare. To the research group in the United States, Dr. Liza from Sweden have been handpicked to maximize their chances. They do not become the first in the world to succeed in having a child after a uterine transplant, but later on the first in the United States. That´s not too bad. They are very quick to announce the news.

> Learn more: First U.S baby born after a uterus transplant

Brazil and several others do their homework before their surgery and do a study visit at the Swedish doctors. They, in return, gladly share their experiences. It’s nice. In Serbia, they are even included in the operation. The donated uterus comes from the patient’s twin sister and the transplant is unique in that way that no rejection medicine is required, since the twins have completely identical tissue antigens. Serbia becomes the country reporting the world’s first child after a uterine transplant between identical twins.

It’s good that it is done

The 21st century seems undeniable be the century when uterine transplant is finally on the agenda. I wish the treatment had come earlier. Listening to the doctors’ successes, I can not help getting a little sad for all the women who have not got the chance. Where the dream of children died because there was no uterus. But I’m also glad. I am glad that in those cases where research has taken time, it has also been well done. I’m glad that uterine transplants are done today. Happy for the future and all women who will be able to get a completely different starting point when their own womb fails them.

And right… At the 2017 Congress, Brazil announced that they, in fact, have a pregnancy. They have succeeded with what three before them failed. They have done the first uterine transplant, with a deceased donor, where the woman has become pregnant. They have been so busy concentrating on their research that they have not communicated it to the world until now. It honors them.

> Learn more: First baby born to woman with uterus transplanted from deceased donor

An enchanted life

On the fifth street from town, in the apartment at the top, life has been transformed. As in a fairytale. Among keystrokes and trumpet solos is the sound of little feet running around and the laughter from tumble and play. And on the floor there are toys – cars, bricks, books and dolls. In our castle of love, music and semi strong values, lives today a prince and princess, the most beautiful of them all. We gave them the names Henry and Vera.

The enchanting life as parents is everything we dreamed of – and a little bit more. It is looking in your child´s eyes and see yourself. Be totally floored. Of love, of responsibility and of fatigue. It is to rediscover life and revive your inner child. Crawl on the the floor, play hide-and-seek and tickle til you lose your breath. It´s long walks in the sunshine and be in the present. And push a stroller in snow and grit uphill. Life as parents is reading bedtime stories and rock your child to sleep in your arms. Stomach-ache, toothache and a comfortless shaking until late night. It is two expectant kids in the back seat on a road trip. And screaming from start to finish for ten miles. It´s kisses on the mouth. An unconditional love. A constant worrying. Life is someone holding your hand across the street. Someone who calls us mom and dad. The best words there is.

Life as parents is amazing … (And sometimes a bit frustrating)

Uterus transplantation. Who knew…

At night time, when the serenity descends in the apartment and you get devotional silent with your thoughts and feelings – that’s when it becomes extra clear. What a divine life we ​​live. The journey we have made. And everyone we give thanks to.

Mats Brännström and Ash Hanafy – two men who discovered the lack of treatment for women who have no uterus and their grief of not being able to become a mom. And who decided to do something about it. Sticked to the idea for so many years despite all the skeptics they met.

The team that Mats built up… Randa Akouri, the woman who made the entire treatment possible through her animal studies. And as a result of the project, studied to become a doctor. Her determination never ceases to amaze me. Pernilla Dahm-Kähler. If I in another life would become a doctor, I want to be like her – strong, dedicated and with a heart of gold. And a damned good surgeon. Michael Olausson and Niklas Kvarnström who did what no transplant surgeon hade done before. Sewed in a transplanted uterus. Anders Enskog, the anesthetist who sat at my side during the transplant. And the birth of my first child. Lars Nilsson, the man who have made more IVF treatments than most and who gave us Henry and Vera. César Díaz-García, gynecologist. Liza Johannesson, gynecologist. Jana Ekberg, neprologist. Hans Bokström, obstetrician. Stina Järvheden, psychologist. There are a lot of you who have cared about me and who will always have a place in my heart.

Everyone related to the above – who supported and wet for their loved one´s job. Our happiness is as much because of them.

All nurses – operating nurses, transplant nurses, IVF nurses. Nurses at the care unit. Midwives. The amount of people that helped me in my weakest moments is countless.

People I have not met until recently, like pathologist Johan Mölne. Who kept me safe all the way, with the help of all biopsies.

Postgraduate and medical students who have been and will be coming. Paving the way for a new future.

My mom… Who gave me the greatest gift of all. Her uterus.

The list of all who contributed to giving us our miracle life can be done long. A simple ”thank you” to these people is not enough in a long way. But it´s the word that best describes gratitude. Thank you. For every smile and progress that my children do, I will always remember you <3

Uterus transplantion. Who knew… After all those years of research, I was in the right place at the right time. It happened to me.

Brother and sister among toys. Hugging each other.

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