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INVOcell: Two Texas Women Carry One Baby in First Ever 'Reciprocal Effortless IVF' Procedure

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Two Texas women carried a single embryo in both their wombs in what doctors believe is a medical first, local ABC affiliate WFAA has reported.

Clinicians transferred Stetson—now a five-month old baby—from the uterus of Bliss Coulter to her wife Ashleigh’s womb just a few days into the pregnancy.

When it come to same-sex couples, “one of them typically births the child and they use the sperm donor,” Ashleigh said, according to ABC News. “The other mom has to adopt the child.”

Bliss wanted a biological link to her child, but she wasn’t keen on carrying the baby to full term, she explained.

The couple underwent a process called reciprocal effortless in vitro fertilization (IVF) to concieve their child at fertility specialist couple Dr Kathy and Dr Kevin Doody’s C.A.R.E. Fertility Clinic. The facility did not immediately respond to Newsweek’s request for comment.

Kathy Doody combined two IVF procedures to make the couple’s wishes a reality. In the first “effortless IVF” doctors used a special capsule device called INVOcell to introduce some of Bliss’s eggs and a donor’s sperm into Bliss’s body. This effectively turned her into a natural incubator for the cells.

“It turns out, not surprisingly, that the woman’s own body is a very good incubator,” Doody told WFAA. “We have livers, kidneys and lungs so we’re able to provide those same services to the embryo more naturally.”

The second procedure—reciprocal IVF—usually involves harvesting one woman’s eggs, fertilizing them in a lab and inserting the resulting embryo into another woman’s uterus. In this case, Bliss’s body acted as the lab for five days, before the embryo was placed inside Ashleigh.

It’s a bit like “passing the baton, like it’s a relay race,” Doody said. “Nobody really knew it was possible—but it worked magnificently.”

Doody had previously discussed the novel procedure with her husband Kevin. “We were just talking one night at home and I said, ‘You know, I think we could use this for a same-sex couple,'” she remembered. “And Kevin said: ‘I think you’re right. I think we could.'”

Ashleigh gave birth to baby Stetson in June 2018. He weighed a healthy eight pounds and four ounces, and he continues to thrive.

“The moment he was born, I just thought to myself, I felt like I was the most blessed person in the whole world, because he was just perfect in every way,” Bliss told ABC News.

Although she is happy with just one child, her wife is keen to get started on baby number two.

“I had a great pregnancy,” Ashleigh, told People. “I miss being pregnant.”

In other reproduction news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced U.S. fertility rates have fallen significantly over the last decade. Rates dropped as much as 30 percent among certain groups.

Scientists at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, linked shorter penises to infertility in a recent study. But fertility experts not involved in the research questioned what impact factors not considered—such as the fertility of female partners—might have had on the results.

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