Room number 406 at Galaxy Care hospital in Pune has been the home of 27-year-old Meenakshi Valand for the last five months now. In her 20th week of pregnancy, Meenakshi is set to be the first Indian woman to deliver her baby after undergoing a uterine transplant. She is being monitored daily to record the foetal heartbeat while other vital parameters are assessed.
“Saras. Bau Saras (Fine. Very fine),” Meenakshi said as she sat on a bed in the hospital. “I have wanted this baby and it is just a matter of few months now,” she said. “I have to be very strong as this is my final chance of holding my baby in my arms,” said the beautician from Jambusar tehsil in Bharuch district of Gujarat.
Shivamma Chalgeri from Solapur in Maharashtra and Meenakshi Valand underwent the country’s first uterine transplants on May 18 and 19 last year. Mothers of the two women donated the uterus in both cases.
During nine years of her marriage, Meenakshi lost two babies after full-term pregnancies, underwent four abortions and ended up with a scarred uterus. “My granddaughter has suffered so much. We are just taking one day at a time,” said Baloo Ben, who has been given an induction plate in the hospital room to cook Meenakshi’s favourite food items.
“My diet is monitored…I don’t leave the room due to chances of infection and one family member is allowed to stay with me,” Meenakshi said. “I walk a bit after eating and am resting for the better part of the day,” she said, adding that she reads devotional books or watches TV when free.
The delivery is due in December, but doctors are not taking any chances as she has mild diabetes due to side-effects of immuno-suppresant drugs. “By early November, we should be able to perform a C-Section,” said Dr Milind Telang, a gynaecologist who guides doctors Tejashree Bakre and Raviraj Tiruke to daily monitor Meenakshi’s blood pressure, conduct routine physical test check for weight gain every week and ensure a minimum dosage of immuno suppresants Tacrolimus, Azoran and Pregsolone to retain the uterus. “We are extremely hopeful as she has cleared the critical anomaly scan at the 20th week of pregnancy, which means that the anatomical structure of the foetus is just fine,” said Dr Shailesh Putambekar, director of Galaxy Care hospital.
Shivamma and Meenakshi have normal ovaries which were were harvested and sperms were taken from their respective husbands to prepare the embryos. Four embryos were frozen in Shivamma’s case and eight in Meenakshi’s case. The uterus transplants will take time to adjust and embryo transfers did not result in pregancy the first time in both the cases.
In Shivamma’s case the embryo transfer has been planned for the third time on August 15 while Meenakshi’s second embryo transfer was successful. “Globally, only eight women have delivered through transplanted uteruses and hence this is a dream run for us,” said Dr Puntambekar.