NEWS

“My womb transplant miracle!”

A friend's sacrifice helped Prue become a mum.
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It was difficult news for Prue Craven to process, even as a teenager. At just 17 years old, she was told it was impossible for her to carry a baby.

“The news hit me like a tonne of bricks. I’d always been maternal, always wanted a family,” Prue, now 38, tells New Idea.

“I’d gone to the doctor because I hadn’t started my periods.”

After an ultrasound showed she didn’t have a uterus, Prue was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome.

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New mum Prue is besotted with Rose. (Credit: Phillip Castleton/ Are Media)

The rare condition, which affects the female reproductive system, meant Prue had two ovaries but no uterus. Her only chance of having a baby would be via IVF and surrogacy or adoption.

In 2013, Prue and her husband, Tom, 37, from Ringwood, VIC, started down that difficult road.

“It was traumatic. We tried surrogacy for two years but our embryos kept miscarrying,” Prue says.

Years went past with more failed attempts, until in 2019, Prue heard about a womb transplant trial. At the time, the operation had never been performed in Australia.

There was one problem: her mum, Julie, 60, who’d volunteered as a donor, wasn’t a blood match.

Family friend Madonna ‘Maddie’ Corstorphan, 59, heard of the couple’s struggle and offered to donate.

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Madonna (left) donated her uterus to Prue. (Credit: Supplied)

“Initially, I was skeptical it would come to anything. How many people offer to do something of this gravity? But Maddie was adamant,” Prue says. “When [our blood] matched,
I was so shocked and emotional that someone would do this for me.”

COVID halted the program for two years, but on March 10, 2023, the duo went to the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney for the combined 14-hour surgery.

It was the third womb transplant of its kind in Australia.

“When I woke up, the first thing I said was: ‘Do I have a uterus?’” Prue says. “When the answer was ‘yes’, I was so overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude.”

Thirty-two days later, Prue had her first period and, on September 8, 2023, one of Prue and Tom’s embryos was transferred.

“We were lucky to fall pregnant on the first go,” she says. “We found out she was a girl and called her Rose straight away.”

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Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome affects one in 5000 women. (Credit: Supplied)

Classified as a high-risk pregnancy, Prue says she still tried to enjoy it, but the relief when Rose arrived safely on March 29 was enormous.

“I went into premature labour at 31 weeks and five days. I needed an emergency cesarean and, weighing 1.44 kilos, Rose was intubated and taken to neonatal intensive care, so there was no dream first moment together,” Prue shares.

“When I finally held Rose four days later, it was extremely emotional. How do you describe holding something you’ve longed for, for over a decade?”

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The couple were determined to try everything. (Photographer: Phillip Castleton/ Are Media)

Rose was discharged from NICU in April and, with her uterus still healthy, Prue hopes to do it all again next year.

But first, the new family is moving home to Melbourne, where Rose will meet Maddie.

“It feels surreal to be born without a womb but to have this beautiful baby. She’s a miracle and a dream come true,” Prue says.

“I’m thankful to everyone on our journey and hope that by sharing what we went through, it shows someone else it is possible.”

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Prue with Olympian Jana Pittman who was also one of her doctors. (Credit: Supplied)

Former Olympian-turned-doctor Jana Pittman was also involved in Prue’s womb transplant surgery.

“Brave women like Prue may now have a way to carry their own baby,” Jana says. “It shines another light on infertility and how we need to support women who want to become mothers to find a way.”

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