On Wednesday, September 16, it was a coming together of the old guard and the newbies for the Baylor Health Care System Foundation Board at the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. After an orientation of the new kids-on-the-block, all convened for lunch and a discussion of the topic of the day.
After Patient Navigator Stacey Webb gave the invocation, she recalled a touching and recent encounter with a family seeking help for a family member battling cancer. That’s what the Baylor navigators do. They help those families who are “navigating” through the journey of battling cancer.
Just as Baylor Health Care System Foundation Director of Development Susan McSherry told of the opportunities that lay ahead for the board, Dr. Giuliano Testa took his place. The Italian transplant specialist charmed his way into explaining a breathtaking project to guests including Baylor Health Care System and Baylor Scott & White Health CEO Joel Allison, Jill Smith, Trisha Wilson, Linda Custard, Nancy Dedman, Pierce Allman, Aileen Pratt, Steve Lieberman, Nancy Carter, Barbara Cockerell, Shannon Skokos, Lindalyn Adams, Mike Maguire, Peggy and Leonard Riggs and Tavia Hunt.
While some may have initially felt a bit uneasy over the subject, they soon realized the importance and the need of the uterine transplants that are now only being done in Sweden.
However, the numbers presented by Giuliano brought the significance, hopes and challenges facing Baylor to allow women denied by acts of birth or disease to give birth to their own children. Of the 247,500 women who are without uteruses, there are currently
- 13,500 women in U.S. born without a uterus
- 4,000 women who lose their uterus due to complication post-delivery and
- 230,000 women ages 15-54 undergoing a hysterectomy each year
But before this revolutionary transplant program can be undertaken, funding to the tune of $5M is necessary, making Baylor the first in this country to provide such a service. Baylor is already providing transplant services for kidneys, liver, lungs, heart and pancreases.
Then Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson moderated a panel discussion including gynecologic oncologist Dr. Colin Koon, fertility specialist Dr. Mike Putman, and Southwest Transplant Alliance President/CEO Patti Niles. They discussed how such a transplant would take place thanks to their teamwork. Following the formal discussion, Robin asked Patti to share a personal story about how such a development would have changed her life. She told how ironically she was one of those women who had wanted to give birth to own child, but was unable. While not regretting having adopted her daughter, she still admitted that if such an opportunity had existed, she would have embraced it wholeheartedly.
When asked about the ethics of having a uterine transplant, Giuliano summed up that it had been heavily looked into. It would provide the opportunity for life to take place without damaging others.