Texas Couple Carries Same Baby In What Doctors Are Calling a Medical Breakthrough

Andrew Roberts 30 Oct 2018

The wonders of science have given us a lot to make life better in these modern times. Diseases have been eradicated, medical procedures no longer involve blaming witchcraft, and humans are living longer than they ever have in history. It's a pretty good time -- if you can afford it.

The latest example to grab headlines comes from North Texas, where same-sex couple Ashleigh and Bliss both wanted to carry their baby. The results are something that CBS in Dallas / Forth Worth calls a "fertility first."

A Magical Moment

NBC News

As Little Things points out, both women wanted to carry the baby, but Bliss did not actually want to give birth. This posed a problem because traditional methods did not offer the ability to do this. That's where the science comes in:

They eventually met with a fertility specialist, Dr. Kathy Doody, who introduced them to a special type of in vitro fertilization called effortless reciprocal IVF.

Instead of using incubators, the eggs and sperm from a donor went into a device that was placed into Bliss’ body. That’s where the eggs were fertilized and the embryos began to develop.

After five days, the device from removed from Bliss and the embryos were frozen. One was then placed into Ashleigh for the full nine months. As US Weekly points out, it became a special moment for both:

“Bliss got to carry him for five days and that was a big part of the fertilization, and then I carried him for nine months,” Ashleigh explained. “So that made it really special for the both of us — that we were both involved. She got to be part of it, and I got to be part of it.”

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A More Natural Procedure

InvoBioscience Official Site

Ashleigh spoke with the New York Post on Monday and noted that the procedure itself "cost them less than $15,000," nearly half of traditional IVF methods.

The INVOcell device used in the procedure allows for a female to become involved in the embryo fertilization as opposed to laboratory work to provide a more natural procedure to couples according to their official site:

Unlike conventional infertility treatments such as IVF where the eggs and sperm develop into embryos in a laboratory incubator, the INVOcell utilizes the women’s vagina as an incubator to support a more natural fertilization and embryo development environment. This novel device promotes in vivo conception and early embryo development. In clinical studies, the INVO Procedure produced equivalent efficacy and pregnancy rates to traditional IVF treatments.

During an INVO Procedure, the patient undergoes a mild ovarian stimulation cycle. Once the eggs are retrieved and sperm is collected, they are placed into the INVOcell device. The INVOcell device is immediately positioned in the upper vaginal cavity for incubation, where natural fertilization and early development of the embryos take place.

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Far From The First Advance In Medical Science

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Advances in fertility procedures and medical science have helped plenty grab headlines over the years. Ashleigh and Bliss are only the latest to use these benchmarks to make history -- big and small.

Better yet, some of these advances have saved or extended lives for millions around the globe.

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Lab-Grown Skins And Organs

Giphy | South Park

Being able to grow new organs and skin in the lab has helped create the possibility that a patient won't have to wait for a donor in order to survive.

A key example is the story of a seven-year-old German boy with a rare genetic disease that had destroyed up to 60% of his skin. Epidermolysis Bullosa left the boy near death with sepsis and left doctors scrambling for an answer.

As Live Science points out, doctors initially tried traditional methods and failed. This led to a new idea using stem cells:

Initially, the doctors tried to treat Hassan's condition with more conservative treatments, such as traditional skin transplants, but these failed to help. So, Hassan's doctors in Germany reached out to Michele De Luca, an expert in stem cell biology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy. They wanted to see if it would be possible to transplant genetically modified stem cells onto Hassan’s body that would correct the mutation that causes EB and generate new, healthy skin...

Doctors took a small square of healthy skin from a non-blistering part of Hassan's body, and De Luca's lab in Italy used that skin to create the genetically corrected stem cells that they could grow into sheets of skin for grafting. Those sheets, which looked like clear plastic, were successfully transplanted over 80 percent of Hassan’s body during several surgeries at Ruhr University in Bochum in October and November 2015. After a month, most of the transplanted skin had started to regenerate.

Pretty amazing.

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Gene Therapy For Diseases LIke Leukaemia

National Cancer Institute / U.S. Government

Modifying and altering existing genes is a way that scientists and doctors are now trying to tackle cancer. Finding a cure for cancer seems like an impossible task, but some advances have aided the fight against some versions of the disease.

CAR-T gene therapy is one that has shown an ability to treat leukemia patients, effectively using cells grown in a petri dish to kill cancer cells in the body.

Researchers filter those cells from a patient's blood, reprogram them to harbour a "chimeric antigen receptor", or CAR, that zeroes in on cancer, and grow hundreds of millions of copies.

When this cell is returned to the cancer patient, it can continue multiplying and help fight the disease for months or even years after.

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Robot Assisted Surgeries

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We have come a long way from losing patients due to dirty surgical tools and the inability to perform precise actions on the operating table. Being able to control a robotic arm or use robotic tools in surgery has made some procedures safer than ever before, with some even becoming routine in-patient operations.

According to News 24, the biggest breakthrough may be one of the smallest procedures in history. If anything, it shows the tight precision that robotic arms can provide:

Surgeons from the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands performed the first robot-assisted super-microsurgery. The robot sutured vessels as small as 0.3 mm to treat lymphoedema in a patient.

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Prosthetics

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The days of using wooden pegs, hooks, and other primitive prosthetic devices is long gone thanks to advanced in medical technology. While there is no shortage of more simplistic arms and legs out in the world, many have moved forward to create advanced appendages that allow for smoother motions and others that even connect to the brain and offer control similar to the limbs they had lost.

Losing a part of your body is no longer just the end of the road for many.

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Early Interventions And Genomic testing

Unsplash | Hyttalo Souza

One of the more proven techniques -- and most divisive -- is the idea of early intervention and prevention of diseases. This can be through genetic testing in the womb to see any issues a baby may face before its birth, it can be testing of your family to find anomalies that may change what you knew about your family medical history, and it can be through vaccines against diseases that once threatened to wipe out everybody.

The debate over vaccines and genetic testing still stands in grey area for some. It's just hard to deny where they have brought us when looking back at history. Diseases we once feared are now eradicated, which may be the greatest advancement in medical history -- opening the doors for everything else on this list.

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