(Picture: Caters News)When support worker Tara Gratton was 14 years old, she was told she did not have a vaginal tunnel, womb, cervix, or fallopian tubes, and only had one kidney.
The 37-year-old from Northumberland was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKS) – a congenital disorder which affects the reproductive system.
As a teenager she had pioneering surgery to rebuild her vagina through using her bowel, allowing her to have sex.
Tara was left devastated by not being able to have children but after meeting partner, Stuart Pretswell, 34, the couple began researching their options.
She is now on the waiting list for a womb transplant – with the couple hoping, through using her own eggs, they’ll be able to start their own family.
‘My (initial) surgery was a risky one as it involved using two inches of my bowel to create a new tunnel opening,’ she explained.
‘I was really young but naturally I was embarrassed about my condition back then as it was so rare.
‘After the surgery I had to have lots of dilation therapy – which essentially stretched my vagina.
‘Doctors thought I didn’t have any ovaries but as I grew older, I discovered that they were wrong – I did have ovaries which meant it was possible for me to have children – but I would have to go through IVF and alternative routes.’
Tara was 14 when she had the surgery to build her vaginal tunnel using her bowel (Picture: Caters News Agency)Tara was first diagnosed with constant kidney infections before doctors did further tests and realised she had MRKS – a rare disorder that affects one in 5,000 women, in varying degrees.
Tara has since applied for the womb transplant trial that has only recently become a viable option.
With a long waiting list, Tara is also looking into surrogacy as a possible path.
She said: ‘We have two embryos in storage and are raising money to cover any potential costs from surrogacy.
‘Now I want to help others like me by speaking out.
‘It took me a long time to get a diagnosis, and to find help – but with more awareness, more support could become available.’
Some of the injections Tara has had to have (Picture: Caters News Agency)To spread awareness, Tara joined LivingMRKH, a support group in the UK.
Tabitha Taya, founder of LivingMRKH added: ‘The road to parenthood for those with MRKH can be challenging, but not impossible, it’s important to remember the condition does not define us and there are options available to make our journey a little less stressful and isolating.
‘We hope Tara’s courage to share her journey provides hope and inspiration to our fellow community.’
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