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Woman born without genitals gets artificial one made of fish skin

A young university student who in her teens was diagnosed with having no cervix, uterus, ovaries or womb became the first person in the world to have a pioneering reconstructive surgery to build one out of fish skin.

The 23-year-old Brazilian identified as Jucilene Marinho, underwent a neovaginoplasty in April last year after being born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hause (MRKH).

Marinho developed normally throughout puberty and even experienced menstrual cramping pains in her stomach but never had a period.

At the age of 15 she was given the crushing news that there was nothing but connective tissue behind the skin blocking the opening of her vagina.

“I cried a lot when I found out,” she recalled. “I thought my world had ended. I’d always dreamed of having a baby of my own now I had to accept that wouldn’t be possible.”

But after the incredible operation which took place at the Federal University of Ceara (UFC), Brazil, Marinho now has every reason to celebrate.

The operation has only just been revealed after it was confirmed as a success.


After spending three weeks recovering in hospital, Ms Marinho was discharged and is thrilled with the results.

The recipient has now spoken for the first time and talked about how the revolutionary operation using skin of the tilapia fish has changed her life and allowed her to have sex for the first time.

The condition, which roughly strikes one in 5,000 women, leaves someone not able to have children.

According to Mailonline scientists at the Federal University crafted her a new vaginal canal using the skin of tilapia fish.

Jucilene Marinho. PHOTO | COURTESY

“My family and friends took me out to “toast” my new vagina! It was a wonderful moment because everything worked perfectly. There was no pain just a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction,” she said.

Ms Marinho, who spiraled into a deep depression when she thought she would never have an intimate relationship, has even been able to have sex for the first time with her boyfriend of over a year.


“I spent three months recuperating from the operation and then doctors gave me the all clear to have sex in October last year,” Ms Marinho said.

“At first I was very scared to do it because I thought it would hurt and I was worried it might damage the opening.”

She described it as a wonderful moment because everything worked perfectly and there was no pain just a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction.

“I didn’t feel any discomfort and there was no bleeding. Everything felt sensitive in what I’m told is the right and normal way. It was perfectly natural like the opening had always been there.”

The revolutionary treatment involves opening a space between the vagina and anus and inserting a tubular mould lined with the skin of the freshwater fish.

Once in contact with the patient’s body, tilapia skin acts like stem cells and is absorbed and transformed into cellular tissue forming the walls of the canal, similar to that of an actual vagina.

Before being used, the fish skin undergoes a special cleaning and sterilisation process in the lab followed by irradiation to kill viruses.

The process removes all the scales and fish smell and results in a light-coloured gel dressing that can be stored for up to two years in refrigerated sterile packaging.