In what is believed to be a first, a married same-sex couple in Texas has given birth to a healthy baby after a pregnancy in which both women were able to carry the same baby in each of their bodies. The two mothers, Ashleigh Coulter, 28, and Bliss Coulter, 36, accomplished the feat thanks to a pioneering medical procedure similar to traditional in-vitro fertilization. Normally, IVF involves inducing a woman to release eggs which are then fertilized in incubators and planted into the mother’s uterus. But in the new procedure, known as reciprocal effortless IVF, doctors used an “INVOcell” device to implant and fertilize the embryos inside Bliss’ body before retrieving them and then planting the embryos into Ashleigh.
“It turns out, not surprisingly, that the woman’s own body is a very good incubator,” explained Texas fertility specialist Dr. Kathy Doody, a co-creator of the innovative new approach. “We have livers, kidneys and lungs, so we’re able to provide those same services to the embryo more naturally.”
“She got to carry him for five days and was a big part of the fertilization, and then I carried him for nine months,” added Ashleigh. “So that made it really special for the both of us — that we were both involved. She got to be a part of it, and I got to be a part of it.”
In addition to allowing same-sex couples to potentially both have a role in the creation of their child, reciprocal effortless IVF is also an economical choice compared to traditional IVF. While IVF typically costs $14,000 to $16,000, reciprocal effortless IVF costs only $8,000.
“No one really knew it was possible,” said Bliss. “But it worked magnificently.”
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