Mother-of-five who struggled with fertility issues for years donates uterus to help a stranger conceive
Aprill Lane, 39, says that infertility is a physically and emotionally draining disease that's often misunderstood and hopes that one day she can get to know the recipient better
Aprill Lane and her husband Brian, after years of arduous struggle with fertility issues, finally have the family they always wanted. The couple has five children: three daughters and two sons. The 39-year-old mother, however, has decided to donate her uterus to another woman who has been struggling with similar issues she herself once faced.
"I felt strongly that my body wasn't done, even though we were resolved with our own family," she said while speaking to the Daily Mail. Reports state that Aprill found about the groundbreaking uterus transplant last year and boarded a plane from her home in Boston to Dallas so that her uterus could be removed and transplanted into another woman she had never met.
Aprill, who is one of four children, says that she always wanted to be a mother and have the same kind of family she was raised in.
"On our wedding day, when we were doing vows, the pastor said "be the father of our children" and I responded, "be the father of our four children." Although the couple got married in December 2007 and started trying as soon as they were married, they failed to conceive until mid-2008 and took reproductive counseling.
"For some reason, when our sperm and egg met, they didn't match very well," Aprill told the outlet. "I think if we were diagnosed in 10 years, we would know why. But when you're getting older, five or 10 years is a long time."
Aprill, for three-and-a-half years, underwent gruelling IVF treatments.
"[Infertility] is a draining disease that's often misunderstood, and people don't quite understand it, so instead people shy away from you... It's physically draining and emotionally draining as well," she says.
The couple eventually decided to adopt and took Miles in 2011 from birth. However, a few months after they adopted the child, the unexpected happened: Aprill got pregnant. The couple's second son was born 13 months after his older brother.
The couple, after another 10 rounds of IVF, had twin girls, Marlee and Josie, who are now three-years-old. However, just as the couple thought their family was complete, Aprill became pregnant again, this time without IVF, with their daughter Juliet.
Although the family had their hands full with five children, Aprill felt like she "would keep going if there was a car big enough." She even considered surrogacy but later realized that nine months of sickness would be hard on her young family.
It was then when got to know about uterus transplants, and immediately wanted to know whether she was qualified to donate.
"It's a way of helping someone carry a pregnancy without me having to do it physically," she says. "And giving back in acts of kindness is a big theme in our family."
She underwent extensive screening and was told she had been accepted as a donor, the couple was thrilled. "I actually felt pride in my body," Aprill says. "For so many years, you think your body is failing you, and then I was like, 'Shoot, my body is awesome.'"
The family then flew to Dallas for the surgery, and it went smoothly, but the recovery period was harder for Aprill than she had expected. However, she powered through with the reassurance from other donors like her and started working from home just 13 days later. It took her about eight weeks to be herself, lift things and go on runs.
"It's actually been really healing for me," she says. "I didn't realize how much of my emotional health was tied to getting my period every month and even when we weren't actively trying it was a monthly reminder of failure and it hit me hard every single month."
"In the beginning, I was very worried about the recipient," she says. "I was worried about [the transplant] instilling some hope into her and then it failing and me being a part of a letdown," she told the Daily Mail, adding the two women have been communication anonymously. Aprill hopes that one day she can get to know the recipient better.