Doctors perform world’s first uterus transplant

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday 21st September 2012

DOCTORS have carried out the world’s first womb transplants be¬tween a mother and daughter.
Within the past few days, two wom¬en have received organs donated by their mothers in the hope they will be able to have children.
The recipients, whose names have not yet been revealed, are aged be¬tween 32 and 37, and are from Sweden.
The operations each lasted seven hours and were carried out at the week¬end by a team of ten surgeons from the University of Gothenburg.
One of the women had been born without a womb while the other had recently had the organ removed follow¬ing surgery for cervical cancer.
Both were still able to release eggs from their ovaries and underwent IVF before the operation to produce embry-os. These have been frozen and doctors intend to implant them into the wom¬en’s new wombs next year in the hope they will become pregnant.
The women were “tired” following the surgery but were recovering well, the Swedish doctors said.
However, the team will not hail the operations a “complete success” until the women have given birth to healthy babies. Even though the mothers are in their 50s and 60s, the doctors believe they will be healthy enough to bear children.
And the women’s bodies are less likely to reject wombs from their own mothers because the tissue is very simi¬lar to their own.
Over the next few months the doctors will gradually give the women fewer “immunosuppressant” drugs, which stop their immune systems rejecting the organs, in the hope they will begin functioning normally.
Professor Mats Brännström, an ex¬pert in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Gothenburg who led the team of surgeons, said: “This is a major step forward.
“The women are well, they are walk¬ing but are tired after surgery. The do¬nating mothers are up and walking and will be discharged from the hospital within a few days.”
The woman whose womb had been removed following cervical cancer, identified only as Anna, said she had been “handed a fantastic opportunity”.
Writing on the University of Goth¬enburg’s website she said: “I have been very careful to make my mother feel that she does not have to do what she is doing. My mother, however, is totally focused upon my welfare.”
She and her boyfriend had created ten embryos, she added.
Over the coming months the surgeons plan to carry out similar transplants on another eight women. They include seven who will receive wombs from their mothers and one who is being do¬nated the organ by her older sister.
They are unable to have children un¬less they use a surrogate mother, which is illegal in Sweden – although it is al-lowed in Britain.
Last year Turkish doctors announced they had carried out the world’s first womb transplant, in which 22-year-old Derya Sert was given the organ of a woman who had died in a car crash. She was due to begin IVF treatment this month in the hope of conceiving a child in her new womb.
But these latest operations are the first time doctors have carried out trans¬plants between mothers and daughters.
Last night British fertility experts said that although the procedure was a significant breakthrough, it could only offer hope to a handful of infertile women, including those born without wombs or those who have had them re-moved due to cancer or gynaecological conditions.
Dr Gedis Grudzinskas, a leading consultant in infertility and gynaecol¬ogy, said: “This is a potential advance for a small group of women but I am cautious about how widespread the im¬plications will be. Applicability is lim¬ited.” -Mail Online