A ground-breaking lab procedure has changed the lives of four women born with underdeveloped vaginas, a rare genetic condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome. Now, one of the women from the study, an unnamed Mexican woman, who was 18 at the time of the surgery, has stepped forward to talk about her life eight years after receiving a lab-grown vagina. With the help of researchers from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City, she has since then been living a "normal life."
“For me to be able to have the surgery, I feel very fortunate because I can have a normal life,” said the Mexican woman in a translated interview, ABC News reported. “I know I’m one of the first. It is important to let other girls that have the same problem know that ... there is a treatment and you can have a normal life.” In MRKH, women’s external genitalia is unaffected by the disorder, which means the condition is not diagnosed until the patient is in her late teens, as in the case of the unnamed woman. The group of women were between 13 to 18 years old at the time of the surgeries, performed between June 2005 and October 2008. At the time, the Mexican woman didn’t understand how a part of her body was going to be made in a lab, but once her body accepted the transplant, the difficult and painful process was worth it.
Eight years post-surgery, the organ works “as if it weren't made in the lab,” she said. The engineered vagina provides normal function, including sexual function, allowing the women to have pain-free intercourse. The unnamed woman said she hopes to one day have children, perhaps a large family, despite her limited options.
These four cases have proven vaginas can be constructed in the lab and used successfully in humans. The scaffolds in the lab were tailor-made to fit each patient. The researchers even go further to suggest that the treatment could be used to help treat women with vaginal cancer or injuries.