By Emma Pearson @emma_pear
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Videographer / director: Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Emma Pearson, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Devan Merck was devastated after finding out she had no vagina when she was just 12-years-old.
The 23-year-old was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome meaning she had no vaginal canal, a malformed uterus and no cervix.
Surgeons created a ‘man-made’ vagina using skin taken from her bottom - allowing her to have sex and lead a normal life.
And now Devan and her husband Trent, from Georgia, USA, are hoping to start a family with the help of a surrogate.
Devan said: “I am no different - instead of having a fully functioning vagina. I have a man made vagina.
“For years I was bullied and felt different. Kids would call me a ‘boy’ and a ‘freak’ and boyfriends would disappear when they realised I wouldn’t have sex.
“But since I met my husband my life has changed completely. We recently discovered I have both my ovaries and we are hoping to have a biological child of our own.
“Everything I’ve been through has been me stronger and I think I will make an amazing mother.”
Devan first started experiencing difficulties when she was 12-years-old.
Every month she would suffer excruciating cramps, but doctors were unconcerned and said it was the beginning of her periods.
Devan’s mother, Gina Sims, eventually found a specialist who discovered the condition – which affects one in 5,000 women.
When she was just 13-years-old, Devan underwent surgery to remove her malformed uterus.
Three years later, sixteen-year-old Devan went on to have a procedure to ‘make’ her a vagina so she was able to have sex.
Devan said: “They had to basically make a vaginal opening for me so that I can have intercourse.
“I had a thick layer of skin that covered my vaginal opening that they had to cut open and then they took skin from my bottom and placed it inside of me.”
The skin was rolled up and inserted into the newly created opening to form a vaginal canal.
For several months Devan had to wear a foam insert inside her vagina to stop the newly created vaginal walls from fusing back together.
The surgery was a success, but Devan’s problems were far from over and she endured years of merciless bullying from her classmates.
Devan said: “The name calling hurt. It hurt my feelings a lot but I dealt with it. It definitely made me a stronger person. I didn’t judge, I just knew that they didn’t understand.”
“I was scared to open up. I was scared of what guys would think about me.
“I was scared what they were going to do and say because I do have scars and I felt different.
“I couldn’t have sex. So it was difficult to have a boyfriend that was okay with that. It definitely ended some relationships really quick. But those relationships were not meant to be, and that’s ok.”
Devan lost her virginity shortly after her operation, but her boyfriend at the time would taunt her – saying that she ‘felt’ and ‘smelled’ different to other girls with her ‘artificial vagina’.
After leaving school, however, Devan found happiness with husband of five years, Trent, who serves in the US military.
And the couple have recently discovered that Devan is carrying eggs in her ovaries – meaning the couple could have their own biological baby by using a surrogate.
Devan said: “All I’ve ever wanted is to be a mum and after everything I’ve been through I finally feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“I want nothing more than to give my husband a child and start a family and now we have the hope that we never dared dream about.”
Devan has the full support of husband Trent, 28.
Trent said: “I am very proud of Devan. I know that this condition is really difficult emotionally and I am just glad I am here to support her.
“Sometimes she gets down and everything but I mean she always looks forward.
“I think she feels guilty about it but I never want her to feel that way and I don’t hold it against her ever.
“I love her no matter what.”
Now Devan and Trent have found a potential surrogate in a close family friend, and they hope that by December 2017 they will have their first child.
And no one is more hopeful for the couple than Devan’s mum, Gina, 45.
Gina said: “I’m so proud of Devan because she so well rounded, she is the epitome of love, and she never gives up.
“She walks out every day with a smile on her face, no matter what, and that to me is everything.
“I can’t wait to see the relationship that she has with her child, her own child.”
Now Devan is planning to start the IVF process.
Devan said: “Having children will change our life tremendously but in a very positive way.
“Me and my husband will finally be able to start our family and our next step in life together.
“My vagina might be man-made rather than god given but I’m a complete woman and I hopefully it won’t be long before I’m a mother too.”
To help Devan and Trent on their journey visit their Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/2bvphgc?ssid=823047638&pos=1