Leslie Carol Botha: Well, this is the ultimate in technological fertility – transplanting uteri and then using IVF for conception. This is a brave new world with women’s bodies under the knife. One women was born without a womb, and the other woman had her uterus removed years ago because of cervical cancer.
Swedish doctors claim pioneering uterus transplant
The Wall Street Journal
September 18, 2012
STOCKHOLM — Two Swedish women are hoping to get pregnant after undergoing what doctors are calling the world’s first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.
Specialists at the University of Goteborg said they performed the surgery over the weekend without complications but added that they won’t consider it successful unless the women give birth to healthy children.
“That’s the best proof,” said Michael Olausson, one of the surgeons.
One of the unidentified women had her uterus removed many years ago because of cervical cancer, while the other was born without a womb. Both are in their 30s.
They will undergo a year of observation before doctors attempt to help them get pregnant via in vitro fertilization, in which embryos created with eggs from their own ovaries will be implanted in their wombs.
Researchers around the world have been looking for ways to transplant wombs so that women who have lost a uterus to cancer or other diseases can become pregnant.
Fertility experts hailed the Swedish transplants as a significant step but stressed it remains to be seen whether they will result in successful pregnancies.
Even if the approach works, it is unclear how many women will choose such an option, given the risks and the extreme nature of the operation compared with, say, using a surrogate mother.
Turkish doctors last year said they performed the first successful uterus transplant, giving a womb from a deceased donor to a young woman. Olausson said that woman is doing fine, but he wasn’t sure whether she has started fertility treatment.
In 2000, doctors in Saudi Arabia transplanted a uterus from a live donor, but it had to be removed three months later because of a blood clot.
Olausson said there could be a lower risk of organ rejection when the donor is a family member, but he said a more important factor is the “emotional connection” between mother and daughter.
Also, the mother-daughter procedure makes it easier to “know that the transplanted organ works,” he said, adding that it doesn’t matter whether the donor is past menopause.