Ten women in the United Kingdom will undergo womb transplants after the success of similar medical operations in Sweden. Last year, ten Swedish women had reproductive organs transplanted from family members, marking a breakthrough in medicinal science.
British surgeons have received the green light from the Health Research Authority to perform the transplant as part of a series of clinical trials. The organs will be taken from “brain-dead” donors with healthy-functioning bodies. Adam Balen of the British Fertility Society said that:
“The UK team has been working on this for many years and so it is very exciting that they have been given the go ahead to move into clinical practice.”
Dr. Richard Smith of Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in London will be the transplant team leader and chief surgeon during the operation. Dr. Smith believes this is a life-changing procedure, which will really have an enormous beneficial impact on the patients:
“When you meet the women who have been born without a uterus, or who have had their uterus removed for one reason or another, this is really heart-rending stuff and that is what has kept us going.”
Dr. Smith said that a procedure of this magnitude is to last up to six hours, after which the woman need to be regularly monitored for one year. After that period, when it is determined that she is fit for pregnancy, she will be impregnated with an embryo via in vitro fertilization and after eight months the baby is delivered through C-section.
However, despite the enormous benefit, the procedure can result in some minor long-term effects due to medical limitations at the current time. In order to avoid dependency on immunosuppressant medication, women who had their wombs transplanted can only get pregnant a maximum of two times. If such a patient chooses to give birth a second time, her womb must be promptly removed once the baby has been born. This needs to be done in order to prevent the body from rejecting the uterus in the absence of immunosuppressant drugs.
But despite these implications, the ten women set to undergo the transplants are more than eager for what they perceive as miracle medicinal science. For them and many others in a similar position, this marks the beginning of a new and exciting time, opening the possibility of motherhood for those previously deprived of the ability to conceive new life.
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