Aprill Lane says she wanted to help ‘build a family for someone else’.
The 39-year-old woman, who lives near Boston in the US, battled with infertility and went through four years of IVF before she and her husband Brian adopted their first child. They had been diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’, which affects one in five couples struggling to conceive.
Aprill unexpectedly became pregnant with her second son soon after the adoption went through. But it took 10 cycles of IVF before she became pregnant again, this time with twin girls. Incredibly, less than a year after giving birth, she unexpectedly became pregnant again, this time naturally, and gave birth to another daughter.
‘Now as a mom of five, I can say I have a pretty severe case of PTSD from what we went through,’ Aprill told ABC News. ‘If I could help just one family, that’s healing for me.’
During her own struggles to build a family, Aprill helped to run infertility support groups and even started a charitable foundation to help women pay for fertility treatments. Through her charity work, she discovered that Baylor University Medical Center was doing clinical trials on uterus transplants.
Uterus transplant recipients might have been born without a uterus or had their womb damaged by cancer, infection or miscarriage. The first successful recipient was a Swedish woman born without a uterus, who gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2014.
Aprill travelled more than 1,500 miles each way between Boston and Dallas for her surgery and pre-op appointments, even though she didn’t qualify for expenses or paid time off, and went through nine hours of surgery to have her uterus removed.
She didn’t know who the recipient would be, because donors and recipients don’t meet until after the transplant, and only if both agree.
She had to spend five days in hospital and two more in a hotel before she was allowed to fly home, and couldn’t lift heavy objects for eight weeks. But she insisted: ‘My recipient has her whole life thinking she can’t carry children, so for eight weeks of feeling bad, it’s worth it.’