Giving birth is a monumental moment in any mother’s life. It doesn’t matter that 251 babies are born every minute because your own bundle of joy is the only one that matters.
Except, for Malin Stenberg, motherhood truly was a unique experience. Stenberg and her partner Claes Nilsson, both from Sweden, were part of a pioneering project which saw their baby, Vincent, be born against the odds.
A year ago, Stenberg made history when she became the first woman in the world to give birth following a womb transplant. Baby Vincent was a true medical marvel, who paved the way for doctors to start experimenting with making the procedure more attainable for hopeful parents across the globe.
The 37-year-old mother, who suffers from Rokitansky syndrome, had given up hope of ever becoming a mother after she was told it was impossible for her to conceive. Stenberg was 15 years old when she was told that she didn’t have a womb, crushing her juvenile dreams of motherhood.
“I wasn’t ready to hear it, I couldn’t take it in. I thought that this means that I’ll never be able to carry a child of my own – but that is what women are made for. It felt so unfair. I loved kids and babies and I wanted to know what I had done to deserve this. I felt so alone.”
Having accepted the difficult news, Stenberg conceded that she would never carry a child. But when she met Nilsson, a 40-year-old former competitive golfer, Stenberg’s outlook changed.
Nilsson refused to accept that he’d never be a father, which opened the conversation between the pair regarding alternative birth methods. They looked into surrogacy and adoption before learning of a new method which was in its experimental phase…
That was when she signed up to partake in a pioneering project taking place at Gothenburg University. The project, which reads like the premise to the latest sci-fi movie, saw nine young women be given the wombs of other women. Most of the women were given the wombs of their mothers, who no longer required the organ.
But, Stenberg received her womb from 61-year-old family friend, Ewa Rosen, who is Vincent’s godmother. “She’s incredible,” Stenberg comments.”She’s really made a great contribution to other people in taking this step to be a donor without any payments or anything: just good will.”
The project came with multiple risks because previous attempts at womb transplants had all failed. But Stenberg was committed to succeeding.
After her donor womb was successfully transplanted, Stenberg underwent IVF treatment and became pregnant on her first attempt. Determined to give birth to a healthy and happy baby, Stenberg and Nilsson “walked on eggshells” during the pregnancy, until Vincent was born two months prematurely.
Now celebrating his first birthday, Vincent is a vision of health and happiness…
The tiny tot, with his thin wisp of blond hair and cheeky smile, is proof that there is still hope for those who cannot conceive. “Today it feels like we went from nothing at all to having this wonderful boy,” Stenberg said. “It’s more than 100 percent. We are more than happy with this. I couldn’t wish for more.”
Since Vincent, whose name is derived from the Latin ‘to conquer’, was born there have been several further successes. Four more babies – three boys and one girl – have been born via the same method, bringing hope to parent’s afflicted by pregnancy difficulties across the world.
Since the success of the project, other countries around the world have begun to commence with their own versions.
Despite their elation at becoming parents, Stenberg and Nilsson do not plan to have another child. In fact, Stenberg has had her donated womb removed for fears that a second pregnancy could be too dangerous for mother and baby.
Medical miracles occur on a daily basis and often go unrecognized. As technology quickly advances, so do cures for illnesses that have plagued the world for centuries. For example, watch this Parkinson’s patient defy his diagnosis thanks to a medical miracle: