A transgender woman has become the first trans person in the world to undergo successful vaginal reconstruction surgery using tilapia fish skin.
35-year-old Maju from Brazil underwent the neovaginoplasty after her vagina shrank and began to close after botched gender confirmation surgery a decade ago.
This incredible three-hour procedure took place on April 23, with doctors using a tubular acrylic mould wrapped with the fish skin to form of a biological prothesis to rebuild and extend Maju’s vaginal canal.
Two separate moulds were inserted to build Maju’s new vagina. The first mould, covered with the sterilised and odour free fish skin, was placed inside the vaginal cavity for a six day period.
After having made contact with Maju’s body, the fish skin displayed phenomenal stimulatory cell growth properties. Rich in type 1 collagen – a substance which promotes healing – tilapia fish skin possesses a firmness and elasticity which is known to have the strength and resilience of human skin.
The tilapia membrane then attached itself to and recoated the vaginal canal walls, acting like stem cells. These were then absorbed into Maju’s body, transforming into cellular tissue.
The second device – likened to a very ‘big tampon’ – was made from silicone, designed to remain within the vagina for up to six months to stop the walls from closing up.
The surgery was conducted by multi-disciplinary medical team, led by Professor Leonardo Bezerra, a gynaecologist, at the Federal University of Ceara (UFC) in Fortaleza, north east Brazil.
Professor Bezerra has stated:
We were able create a vagina of physiological length, both in thickness and by enlarging it, and the patient has recovered extremely well. She is walking around with ease, has no pain and is urinating normally. In a couple months we believe she will be able to have sexual intercourse.
Bezzera has successfully treated 10 women using this technique since it was developed three years ago, helping women with various health issues to regain their confidence as well as their ability to be intimate. It has been implemented previously to assist women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome.
Maju realized she was transgender while still a teenager, and – with the support of her family – underwent gender confirmation surgery in 1999.
Unfortunately, ten years after her transition, Maju suffered vaginal stenosis, with her vagina beginning to narrow and shorten, and her vaginal canal collapsing.
The constant discomfort Maju suffered as a result of this prevented her from having sex with her partner of 12 years. The couple have since divorced.
Maju resigned herself to a life of discomfort and celibacy, but then she heard about the pioneering work of Professor Bezerra and hasn’t looked back.
Wow! Doctors apply fish skin to gas explosion victim’s second-degree burns! pic.twitter.com/70YHSDzIQK
— Women Live Longer (@womenliveIonger) May 24, 2018
Speaking three weeks after her treatment, Maju said:
I’m absolutely thrilled with the result. For the first time in my life I feel complete and like a real woman.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8 pm to midnight and is run by trans volunteers.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.