Even at the worst of time, most proud parents will tell you their children are blessings. But for Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi, who had been told she may never be able to conceive, motherhood is an especially profound gift. "I believe that was my karma," Padma told India Today this week about her daughter, Krishna Thea Lakshmi, who arrived 11 months ago.
After years of suffering excruciating cramps, Padma saw a specialist in 2006 who diagnosed her with endometriosis, a mysterious medical condition that affects 176 million females around the world and may account for up to half of all cases of infertility. In fact, doctors told Padma it wasn't likely she'd ever be able to conceive.
Joining forces with her specialist, Dr. Tamer Seckin, Padma used her media attention to shed light on the condition, which usually takes a decade before being accurately diagnosed. The two launched the Endometriosis Foundation of America in 2009 to lobby Congress for research money, press medical schools to increase their teaching about the disease, and make more women familiar with the symptoms. For more on Padma's mission, visit the Foundation's website.