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Womb Transplant

If you were on the Prompt-ly list, you’d know that I was thinking about this topic.  Just saying.

A woman in England is set to donate her womb to her daughter for a womb transplant.  In other words, the 25-year-old girl will receive the uterus that she came from.  They both seem incredibly down-to-earth and practical in all the articles I’ve read.  The mother, Eva Ottosson, has a functioning womb (at least it worked to carry two children to term).  Her daughter, Sara Ottosson, needs a womb because she was born without reproductive organs.  The mother will give her daughter the womb because she is the best possible match.

I’m transfixed by this story not because I think it strange — I think it makes perfect sense — but because I wonder the mother’s emotional path to this point.  Her mother relays that her daughter approached her with the researcher’s idea, and I wonder what has gone through her mind since she first heard those words.

Did she wish she had come to her daughter with the idea instead of the other way around?  Did she feel a strange guilt that her daughter developed without reproductive organs?  Does she feel thrilled that she has this role to play — that she is the one who gets to provide this gift instead of a stranger?

Can you tell that I’m playing my own mind-set on the Ottossons?

I’ve written before that I feel a fair amount of guilt over the twins’ prematurity and any lingering effects.  My rational side knows that I can hardly be held accountable for the way my blood clots or for the placenta not functioning.  But just like a soldier feels guilty when the shit goes down on his watch, I feel guilty that the shit went down in my body.  On my watch.

I think once you emotionally take on the mantle of guardian — whether you become a parent or an aunt or a teacher — you feel this desire to be the one who makes things better.  I wanted to be the one who taught my struggling students how to construct a paragraph.  I personally felt guilt when they failed — and yes, I’m aware that guilt is an imperfect term here — but I also felt a sense of satisfaction when I succeeded.  Because I was the one who fixed things.

And I could see myself in this situation wanting to be the one who fixed things for my daughter if she was born without reproductive organs.  Because I already know that I’d want to be the one who provides the ChickieNob with money or support if she ends up inheriting my infertility.  I’d want to give her anything I could to make life better for her.

As her mother, I would do anything for her.  I would literally give her anything: my recipes, my time, my advice, my money, my blood, my organs, my life.

Now I understand why my grandmother always tried to give me things when I visited: toothpaste, boxes of dried noodles, blankets.  I was her daughter’s daughter therefore, I was also the receptacle of this incredible love.  And we just want to give.  We want our children and the future generation of children to take.  Because we have almost this insatiable need to be needed.

So I understand this desire to give her womb.  Perhaps it comes only from a healthy place of love and not my healthy place of love which also comes with a not-so-healthy dose of guilt.

I’d be nauseated to ever think of my mother feeling one second of guilt over my infertility.  It is probably part hereditary and part the dumb luck of the universe.  Out of either of our control.  And therefore, to feel guilt about it is a waste of energy.

You can see that I’m very good at not listening to my own rational thoughts.  I think them, I know them, I can convey them.  And then instead of applying them to myself, I ignore them.


What are your thoughts on the womb transplant?  Would you give your womb to your daughter?  Would you take a womb from your mother?  How would adoption (either being an adoptive mother or an adoptee) bring additional emotions to this situation?  Would you rather have a stranger take your womb?  Would you rather take a womb from a stranger?


1 Chickenpig { 06.14.11 at 8:36 am }

Wow….hmm….never thought about it. I think that I would give my daughter my womb if I thought it would work, but the thought of taking my mom’s gives me the heebee jeebees. I would be more likely to be willing to be the womb recipient or donor for my sister than my mom. Having the same parents we would probably be a better match anyway.

I think if you are Jewish getting rid of the guilt is genetically impossible 😉 Guilt is overrated, though, and baggage you could do without. On the flip side, I carried my twins to 38 weeks w/o any complications…a whopping total of over 13 1/2 lbs of baby, and I don’t feel a sense of accomplishment, just gratitude. If I won’t take credit, why should you take blame?

2 BigP's Heather { 06.14.11 at 8:51 am }

Without a question I would give any organ or part Katherine needed. I’m not sure I would take my Mother’s womb? I wonder if I would feel different if she was the one to approach me?

I’m kinda hating you Mel. I know you were talking in a reproductive sense…but I have now had the thought of having my mother’s womb where my father has been. I feel so dirty.

3 Audrey { 06.14.11 at 9:49 am }

I told my best friend earlier this year that I would put aside our plans for a third child to surrogate for her when she asked. So for her, if my womb was in excellent shape, which it sadly is not after two c-sections and a uterine rupture, I would gladly give my womb. And of course, I would do no less for my daughter.

4 magpie { 06.14.11 at 10:23 am }

Huh. I wonder if my mother ever felt responsible for my infertility. I doubt it; she was far too narcissistic and not very giving.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around a womb transplant. It just seems like it won’t work. Not that it isn’t right, just that it won’t work right.

5 Meredith { 06.14.11 at 10:40 am }

I teared up reading this post, especially what you wrote about ChickieNob and your grandmother. I would give a future daughter my womb.

Last year my friend’s dad received a kidney transplant in a donor chain. My friend’s mom gave a kidney to someone whose spouse gave my friend’s dad a kidney. They are in their 60s like my parents, and it made me ask myself if I’d give a kidney to my parents. Like so many parents, they’d give me their everything, their very lives. If it were a matter of life and death, I would likely give them a kidney.

But what if down the road my husband or child needed a kidney and I’d already donated? (If I donated and I needed a kidney, I understand I’d be bumped up higher on the list and would not need to wait as long to receive one. I don’t expect this could be the case for each of the donor’s nuclear family members.) I’d feel devastated that I could not give again.

I like these questions, they’re great food for thought…

6 Becky { 06.14.11 at 11:06 am }

Now you’ve got the question of how my mom feels about my infertility rolling around in my head. She’s very non-verbal about most things, unless specifically asked. And, I’m not sure I want to ask… Frankly, trying to deal with my own emotions and experience with IF is about all I can take. Not sure that I could deal with another person’s emotional load.

As far as the womb transplant, sure, what the heck. Bring on the donor wombs. Maybe they’ll have better luck in my defective body than my own does.

7 Cece { 06.14.11 at 12:43 pm }

Any body part that I could give my children, I would. No questions asked.

8 Seriously?! { 06.14.11 at 1:27 pm }

As a future adoptive mom, former RPLer, autoimmune clotter, and unknown diagnosis to fully explain my RPL….I would STILL do ANYTHING for my future daughter. If I had a part that especially made her NOT experience RPL or infertility, you better believe that I’d be giving it to her!!!

So while some may think that this story is weird, offensive, not in the order of the circle of life bs….I would say…transplant???? GAME ON!

9 Blanche { 06.14.11 at 1:44 pm }

I definitely think my mom felt, if not guilty, at least responsible in part for my issues since she also had issues. (Heredity or just bum luck of the genetic draw? Who knows?) Because of that she offered and we accepted $ towards the costs of IVF/ICSI.

I think a ute transfer is pushing it though. Mostly because my first thought is how would the anti-rejection meds affect a pregnancy?

10 a { 06.14.11 at 1:47 pm }

I don’t know if I’ve passed on my reproductive issues to my daughter. I worry more that she’ll inherit even more of her father’s high stress personality.

In general (as in, not in my case), I would think it would be a better idea to be a surrogate for your child rather than donate a womb. Less surgery that way. But, if my daughter needs an organ, she can have it. Although, for anything other than female parts, I think I’ll volunteer my husband to donate first.

11 HereWeGoAJen { 06.14.11 at 8:10 pm }

I would give anything to my children.

I know how you feel about the guilt. It’s hard to let the rational side of you win that argument. The only way I manage to do it most of the time is to externalize it. Like, you don’t blame ME for all the death that has gone on inside of me, right? So you can’t blame yourself for something that it outside of your control.

12 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 06.15.11 at 1:16 am }

I really like what you said about paying for ChickieNob’s (hopefully never needed) IF treatments. That’s an excellent way to make up for the guilt that many of us feel despite knowing we shouldn’t.

My mother never knew about our IF, and now I’m especially glad I never told her as she would have felt terribly guilty.

My uterus was almost removed during childbirth to stop the hemorrhaging, but now you’re making me glad it wasn’t, just in case anyone ever needs it.

13 Rachel { 06.15.11 at 9:23 am }

I just want to comment about mothers feeling guilt about their daughter’s infertility. We learned that my heart-shaped uterus is, indeed, a birth defect. My mother does feel guilty, even though rationally she knows she didn’t do anything, and even though I have told her over and over again it isn’t her fault.

But she’s a mom. Guilt comes with the territory!

14 Melody { 06.15.11 at 10:17 am }

I’ve been joking for a while about giving my daughter egg cryopreservation for her high school graduation, but you know what? If she’d be willing to undergo the procedure, I’d pay for it in a heartbeat to preserve her from the pain I went through with infertility. I have a lot of guilt about her prematurity and heart problems and often wonder if they are the result of the many drugs I took to make having her possible. Shortly after she was born, the pediatrician requested an ultrasound of her kidneys to see if they had any problems as a result of her IUGR and Single Umbilical Artery (SUA) and I remember begging the tech to look and make sure she had ovaries. Completely illogical and, as it turns out, impossible to see in a 4 lb 4 oz infant, but I was terrified she’d have reproductive issues in addition to her many other (thankfully all fixable) birth defects and that it would be all my fault.

So yeah. Guilt. I know it well.

15 Melody { 06.15.11 at 10:18 am }

And yeah, I’d happily tie my womb up with a ribbon for her.

And my mom would have done the same for me, and I would have taken it. Watched a news story on this last night and found myself elated that such a thing was possible.

16 sush { 06.15.11 at 5:29 pm }

Wouldn’t it be ace if we could all sort of timeshare with the bits of our systems that don’t work? Like, I could donate eggs if I got a shot of someone else’s tube for a year. Someone with uterus problems could swap with someone who had an irregular cycle.

I know my Mum feels a bit guilty about our IF because she had me when she was older, even although the whole thing is not her fault at all. It makes me regret telling her sometimes.

17 mrs spock { 06.15.11 at 7:00 pm }

Without even a second of hesitation, I say, “Yes, I’d give it!”

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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