‘You will never be able to carry your own child.’ At 14, my dream was completely crushed.’: Woman with MRKH Syndrome shares journey to uterus transplant

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“Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of having a baby. What I didn’t know is when I was 14 years old, that dream would be completely crushed. I remember walking down the long hallway to the doctor’s office with a nurse after having an abdominal and pelvic ultrasound at the OBGYN’s office. As I sat there alone, just me and the doctor with my dad in the waiting room, I was told I would never be able to carry my own baby. In that moment, I was devastated and completely heartbroken, and it’s a feeling that stayed with me for many years.

A little girl stands with a box with a doll in it
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

I was diagnosed with what’s called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome, or MRKH. Only 1 in every 4,500 women are diagnosed with this—which means I was born without a uterus or cervix. I have normal ovaries and fallopian tubes, just missing those two parts, making it impossible for me to carry my own baby.

A girl holds up a trophy and wears a medal around her neck
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

When Timmy and I started dating in 2011, I knew I would have to break the news to him—one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I told him somehow, someway I wanted to be a mom to a biological child and surrogacy was the only way to make that happen. From that moment, he’s supported my dream and said he would love me no matter what.

A bride and groom on their wedding day
Courtesy of Freshly Bold

I was lucky because God blessed me with two amazing children. Timmy has a son named TJ from a previous relationship, and shortly after we started dating, I adopted my 5-week-old nephew, Jayden. The boys are now 11 and 9, but my desire to have a biological child of my own has never gone away. In fact, the longer Timmy and I are together, the more everyone asks, ‘Are you two going to have a baby together?’ If only they knew the story and our longing to do just that.

A woman and her husband stands with their two children
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

I have always wondered what it would be like to feel our baby kicking inside me. To hold our baby right after it’s born, looking for resemblances to myself and Timmy. To watch our baby grow up. To complete our family.

In 2012, when I was 20, I saw the first news articles about uterus transplant trials in Sweden. I love anything related to the medical field and was completely amazed it was even a possibility, but I thought, ‘Surely they will never do that in the US, right?’ Well, I was wrong! In 2016, I was ecstatic when I saw Cleveland Clinic bring a uterus transplant trial to the United States, followed by Baylor and then the University of Pennsylvania. I reached out to all three hospitals for more information. They said not only would I have to relocate to those cities, but I also didn’t meet the criteria based on my weight. In order to qualify, my BMI had to be under 30. I felt my dream slipping away.

A woman and her husband stand together outside
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

Then last year, in the middle of the pandemic, not even trying to get into a uterus transplant program, I started a nutrition-based program to help me lose weight. Honestly, I just wanted to look and feel better, and I was miserable. My goal was to be in the best shape I have been in by the time I reached 30. By October, I was 4 months into my weight loss program and had lost 80 pounds, when I ran across an article posted in one of my MRKH support groups. I was in shock when I read that UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL, was launching a uterus transplant program. I couldn’t believe of all places, Alabama was going to have a program, and it would only be 3 and a half hours from home! That same week, I also hit a 30 BMI! I am absolutely amazed at how even the smallest of details were falling into place.

Through November, I kept checking the website for a link to fill out an application—but I never saw one. Finally, on December 9th, I decided to call the number I found online and find out the details. They sent me several forms to fill out, which I had to submit along with my medical records. If I was a good fit, they would schedule a virtual interview for me to meet with the transplant surgeon.

On January 11th, the day before my 29th birthday, and after a few long weeks of waiting, the uterus transplant coordinator called me to say they had reviewed my records and wanted to schedule a virtual interview with me. That was definitely the best birthday present ever! The interview was set up for January 19th. I was so excited but so incredibly nervous. This is the one thing I have dreamed about every single day since 2012. This was a huge meeting for me—maybe the most important ever!

During the hour-long interview with the transplant surgeon and the nurse coordinator, they asked me questions to get to know me and more about my life. The surgeon then explained the process of getting a uterus transplant. After the call, I talked to Timmy, then let the transplant coordinator know the next day, ‘We are in it for the next round!’ The next step for their team was to present my case and medical records to the entire team of several doctors to see if they wanted me to go to Birmingham for an extensive medical evaluation.

A mom sits in a truck with her two sons
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

After a few weeks of waiting, which honestly felt like months, I got a call on Monday, February 8th, telling me the team would be meeting late on Wednesday to talk about my case and make a decision. Those three days of waiting were definitely the hardest, and I lost sleep just thinking about it. On Thursday morning, I got the call I was hoping for: the team unanimously decided to have me come to UAB for three days of testing. When I got off the phone, I had to go to the bathroom at work and wipe all the tears away. I never thought I would get that phone call—but I did—and we were onto the next step!

We headed up to Birmingham after work on March 1st, and I remember multiple times during the car ride just looking over at Timmy and asking him, ‘Babe, is this real life?!?!’ On the way to the appointment the next morning, the coordinator told me I was the first girl they brought in to be evaluated for the program, and the only girl from Alabama who had applied—how cool is that!?!?

Parents and their two sons stand in front of a brick wall
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

The next three days were an AMAZING experience meeting the whole team, but it honestly still felt like a dream—was this really happening?! I was truly honored to be able to have a long conversation with Dr. Porrett, the lead transplant surgeon, about her passion for uterus transplants. On the last day, we said our goodbyes and were told the whole team of doctors would be meeting on April 6th to look over all my tests and decide if I would be listed for transplant.

We came home and counted down the days, which never went by fast enough. I was excited, nervous, anxious—just a big ball of emotion. This was my #1 lifelong dream—to be able to carry my own baby! I set a countdown on my phone screen and constantly reminded Timmy how many days were left until the big meeting.

After a little over a month, we got the BEST phone call ever—the team of doctors said yes to moving me forward and listing me for transplant once I have viable embryos created. My dream is becoming a reality, but there are still a few more steps between then and now.

We did one round of IVF in June, hoping to have at least 2 good embryos, which we need in order for me to be listed for my uterus transplant. Unfortunately, we only got one good embryo from that round and had to restart the process all over—which we are currently doing now. While I felt devastated about having to do another round of IVF, knowing the costs associated with it, I knew I wasn’t giving up!

A man inserts a syringe into his wife's stomach
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman
A woman holds a large stack of boxes
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

I shared the ups and downs, the real and the raw about this journey so far in our Facebook group: Goldman Baby Adventures: Elizabeth’s Uterus Transplant & IVF Journey. We went from just a few people following our story to over 1,400 people following our journey and cheering us on every step of the way. I can say it feels AMAZING knowing so many people want our huge dream to happen! The number of messages I have received daily from other girls diagnosed with MRKH or battling infertility in other ways simply saying, ‘Thank you for sharing your story, it gives me so much hope’ has made sharing my story completely worth it!

A woman stands holding a handful of syringes
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

Here are the details of what our life looks like right now and will look like in the near future:

We have to take multiple trips back and forth to Birmingham for IVF appointments and to do another egg retrieval to get more embryos. After we get at least one more embryo created, I’ll be listed for my uterus transplant. Once they have a donor who is a match, I will get the call for surgery! Around 6 months after surgery, they will transfer one of our embryos. I will carry the baby up to 37 weeks, then have a c-section.

A family sits together in their car
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman
A woman and her husband wearing masks at a doctor's office
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

Here’s the other thing: to be a part of this program, I have to be a resident of Birmingham, AL, from the day I have surgery until we have our baby. We are picking up our lives, leaving jobs, family, and friends. But we are doing all this to chase a dream—a BIG dream! We will be moving into our apartment in Birmingham, AL, the second week of August. We know we can’t do this alone, and we don’t want to do this alone. We’re asking for help from all over.

A woman points to her husband who has his arm around her
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

UAB is covering all the medical costs estimated at $200,00 – 300,000 for the surgery and medications, which is amazing! But we are responsible for all IVF costs (around $16,000 each cycle), all the OB appointments after getting pregnant, travel expenses and accommodations, relocation to a new city, and time off work—a little overwhelming to think about, but we know it will be so worth it!

We are so excited about being chosen for this opportunity. We are excited for the thousands of women just like me who will be impacted by our ‘yes,’ which will help advance medicine and make the impossible possible. We know our story will continue to inspire many people in the days to come.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Thank you so much in advance for your support, whether it’s through prayers or your financial support. We are so excited about this next chapter in our lives, and we can’t wait to meet our baby!”

A woman holds up two newspapers featuring her story
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman
A woman stands with her husband and two sons
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman
A woman holding a handful of syringes gives a thumbs up
Courtesy of Elizabeth Goldman

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Elizabeth Goldman from Alabama. You can support her journey through her GoFundMe and follow along on Facebook and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories like this here:

‘You won’t carry a child.’ I never got a period. I’d memorize pill brands, so I wouldn’t flag as ‘not-quite-woman.’: Woman with MRKH Syndrome finds purpose in advocacy

‘At least you’ll stay skinny!’ I sat on the toilet and cried. You never think you might be the ONE.’: Woman documents infertility journey, ‘Don’t be ashamed to talk about it’

‘I met another woman coming out of the office, bawling her eyes out. She, too, was going home to wait for that all too important phone call.’: Couple battles infertility for years, ‘It’s a horrible waiting game’

‘What kind of woman carries a baby for two men?’ I decided to help a stranger. They say it takes a village to raise a baby. Sometimes, it takes a village just to grow one.’: Woman becomes surrogate to help couples battling infertility

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