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World's first baby carried as an embryo in two wombs has been born

9 December 2019
Appeared in BioNews 1027

A same-sex couple has given birth to a son from an embryo that was grown in both the women's wombs.

The couple, Donna and Jasmine Francis-Smith, underwent IVF at the London Women's Clinic using a treatment procedure called Shared Motherhood, which allows one woman to provide the egg and initial environment for fertilisation, and the second woman to carry the embryo to term and deliver the baby.

In order to achieve this, a novel in vivo natural fertilisation technology was used, called AneVivo, which was developed by the Swiss fertility company, Anecova. Founder and CEO of Anecova, Martin Velasco said: 'Anecova's mission is to bring back embryos to their natural environment in the womb from the artificial environment in the IVF laboratory.'

The method uses an intra-uterine device allowing bi-directional passage of fluids, nutrients and other non-cellular components during fertilisation and early embryo development. The eggs were initially extracted from Donna Francis-Smith and placed inside a miniature capsule with sperm, which was then inserted back into Donna's womb.

In doing this, fertilisation occurs inside the women's womb, rather than in the laboratory as is the case with traditional IVF. This allows for important interactions to occur in a natural environment between the embryo and the mother, according to Anecova. After 18 hours, the incubated egg was taken out and inserted into Jasmine Francis-Smith's womb, who carried the embryo for the duration of the pregnancy.

Dr Kamal Ahuja, managing and scientific director of London Women's Clinic said: '...It's our great pleasure to report the first birth in the world with Shared Motherhood using Anecova's ground-breaking technology for in vivo natural fertilisation.'

The infant, named Otis, was born in July in London, and is the first baby to be born created using a method that involves the wombs of two women. More than 100 babies have been born to female same sex couples where the eggs are extracted from one woman, artificially incubated and then the embryo is transferred into the womb of the second woman, according to The Telegraph. However, the AneVivo procedure differs in that the incubation of the embryo occurs in the womb of the first woman.

Donna and Jasmine, who live in Colchester, Essex, were delighted by the birth of their son. Jasmine told the BBC: 'The procedure really made me and Donna feel quite equal in the whole process and has emotionally brought us closer together.'

She added that if they had to go through the process again 'there is nothing we would change'.

Boy born to mothers who both carried embryo
BBC |  4 December 2019
British lesbian couple first to carry baby in both their wombs
The Telegraph |  3 December 2019
Same-sex couple become first in world to carry baby in both of their wombs
The Independent |  4 December 2019
The world's first ever ‘two-womb’ baby born to lesbian couple in London
i news |  3 December 2019
World’s First In Vivo fertilized baby with Shared Motherhood
Anecova |  3 December 2019
11 November 2019 - by Eleanor Taylor 
Over the last decade the number of women who have opted to freeze their eggs for social reasons has risen exponentially...
11 November 2019 - by Dr Marieke Bigg 
A petition to Parliament to tackle the national discrepancies in NHS IVF provision has been closed due to the upcoming UK general election...
29 April 2019 - by Bernie Owusu-Yaw 
This podcast mini-series by ABC takes a 'womb's eye view of reproduction', in the words of its presenter Natasha Mitchell...
1 April 2019 - by Dr Kamal Ahuja 
A sociologist quoted by the Daily Mail has claimed that an egg-sharing scheme offered by our own and other fertility clinics 'sounds like bribing women to freeze their eggs'. Such schemes, said the University of Buckingham sociologist, seemed no more than a 'marketing ploy' with no regard for 'the long-term consequences'...
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