Doctor Chen Huanran is looking for a few good men -- to get pregnant.
The Beijing doctor -- one of China's most-prominent sex change surgeons -- says he has developed the technology to impregnate a man, and now he wants to use his technique to help his transsexual patients have children of their own.
If successful, it would be the first time ever that a male human has become pregnant, with the possible exception of the Arnold Schwartzenager movie "Junior."
Chen, who works at the Plastic Surgery Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said he has already lined up four men for the procedure and an Internet discussion of his "male mother" project has caused hundreds of men around the country to volunteer for swollen ankles, morning sickness and the many other joys of pregnancy.
"We want to help the transsexuals we operate on to realize their basic right of delivering a baby," Chen said yesterday.
The doctor said he plans to start the program next year, but it is still unclear what government departments he would need to obtain permission from before beginning his historic project.
He began working on the idea of impregnating a man about 10 years ago after many of his sex-change patients expressed a wish to have their own children. Transsexuals will be the first beneficiaries of the technique, he said, but he also wants to help men whose wives can't have kids due to illness or sterility.
"Since delivering children is women's duty and right, male pregnancy not only imposes extra dangers, but also arouses new social problems," he stressed.
While the rules and ethics are unclear, Chen said the technology is ready.
He said the "male mother" will take oral doses of female hormones. Once ready, the patient will then be impregnated by in vitro fertilization, with the embryo implanted into the abdomen cavity just under or into the peritoneum (the surrounding lining).
The pregnancy will take the normal nine months with the delivery done by Caesarean section.
Chen has been recruiting volunteers on the Internet for the project with a message posted at a Website for those that have had or want to have sex changes (www.spscenter.com).
He said all the candidates have a strong desire to have a baby, and are willing to pay the estimated 200,000 yuan (US$24,156) costs of the procedure.
"It is a very serious project. Most probably, I will prefer to choose my patients for the first group," Chen said.
When Chen announced his intention on the Website, he got an earful of responses. About 500 people said they want to be volunteers for the project.
Chen said half of them are normal men, some looking for a novel experience and some want to deliver babies for their wives.
But for the majority of people, Chen's project seems scary.
"Male pregnancy is too ridiculous. It is against human nature," said Zheng Li, a 29-year-old company staff. "If a man wants a child, he can adopt one and leave the human body it is supposed to be."
Even the transsexuals have indifferent attitude toward it.
"Having a baby gives me a great joy and a real feeling of being a woman," said Jin Xing, a 34-year-old dancer undergoing a transsexual operation in 1996. She adopted a boy orphan two years ago and now lives in Shanghai.
"But I won't choose to undergo such a pregnancy process," the dancer said.
(Eastday.com May 29, 2002)