Four years ago, after many prayers and medical treatments, Leah Gal-Ad made Israeli medical history by being the first woman in Israel to carry a pregnancy to term and to give birth without a cervix.
This week saw her set a surprising second record, as Leah gave birth to her second daughter, setting a medical record for the first second birth in Israel to a woman with no cervix.
Leah was treated at Carmel Hospital in Haifa during both pregnancies.
“When I saw the positive pregnancy result I was the happiest person alive,” she recalled. “After the first birth I really wanted another baby but I was afraid.”
“My first call was to Professor [Ofer] Lavie [of Carmel hospital], who shared my excitement over the phone.”
Staff at Carmel Hospital did a series of tests and began following Leah’s situation closely. The first attempt to keep the baby safely in the uterus, by using a stitch to close the womb, was unsuccessful. Doctors found an alternate system, developed in Germany, and were able to use it successfully on Leah.
Leah was able to continue her work at the Mekorot water company throughout the pregnancy. In week 36 of the pregnancy her daughter was born in a planned Caesarean section surgery.
“There are very few cases of second births after cervical cancer in the entire world,” Professor Lavie said. “I think we should be proud of our health system in Carmel Hospital in Israel, that we offer our patients advanced, quality care on the level of leading health centers around the world.”
“Today, there is no need for women to look for solutions overseas when it comes to gynecology and cancer," he continued. “We offer top-quality medical care, with advanced techniques to preserve fertility… We currently have a few other women at Carmel who had their cervix fully removed, and we are waiting for them to have a successful pregnancy.”
He warned women to undergo the tests for cervical cancer. “Unfortunately, this disease primarily affects young women. Early detection can give us new options for preserving fertility,” he explained.
Leah and a friend who also gave birth after having had her cervix removed have created a website to offer information and support to women who find themselves facing cancer surgery that could affect fertility, and attempts to achieve a successful pregnancy afterward.
“I’m happy that I managed to prove that it’s possible to bring babies into the world even without a cervix,” Leah said. “Regarding a third baby, I don’t know, we already broke two records. Maybe we’ll break another, who knows.”