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A Woman With Five Transplanted Organs Has a Baby

A woman whose liver, pancreas, stomach, large intestine and small intestine all began their lives in another person's body has just given birth to a life of her own

Not the baby in question. Image: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL)

A woman whose liver, pancreas, stomach, large intestine and small intestine all began their lives outside her body has just given birth to a life of her own.

At age nineteen, Fatema Al Ansari was diagnosed with mesenteric thrombosis—a blood clot that caused her abdominal organs to fail and require transplant. Now, just seven years later, she is the proud mother of a baby girl, in the first documented case of anyone with five organ transplants giving birth. The Associated Press reports some of the challenges she faced during pregnancy:

Her recent pregnancy was considered high-risk and she was monitored closely by her team of transplant doctors and gynecologists in Miami.

She did not have an infection during her pregnancy, as her doctors had prepared for, but she faced minor complications including the flu, some bleeding and physical discomfort from her growing baby.

Having five organs transplanted is no longer incredible—which, in and of itself, is pretty amazing—but doctors couldn’t find any other case of someone with five transplants then having a child. Organ recipients must take drugs to suppress their immune systems, which would otherwise reject the foreign tissue, and are at high risk for infection. For Al Ansari’s body to even be able to grow with the baby is a feat.

In fact, the first post-transplant pregnancy wasn’t documented until 1963, according to Transplant Living. Several studies have chronicled pregnancy and delivery in patients with kidney transplants and heart transplants. In 1976, guidelines were proposed for those with transplants who wanted to get pregnant, including a one year waiting period after the surgery before pregnancy. And in 1991 the National Transplantation Pregnancy Registry was established to study women with transplants who wanted to have children.

In 2011, the Intestinal Transplant Association recorded 600 people who underwent five-organ transplants. For many of them, having children was probably considered impossible. But medicine is amazing, and now it might not be.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Growing New Hearts Without Using Embryonic Stem Cells

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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