Womb transplant rekindles hope for infertile women

Womb transplant rekindles hope for infertile women

A 34-year-old married woman has an over 80 percent chance of becoming pregnant after being successfully transplanted with a donor womb. Her 40-year-old sister who had finished building her own family donated the womb.

The womb transplant could benefit thousands more women in the UK and environs, who are born without a viable womb due to disorders like Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome (MRKH), a reproductive system disorder affecting women that causes them to be born without a womb. One in 5000 women are born without a viable womb.

The transplant was performed in February at the Oxford Transplant Centre in the UK but the surgeons didn’t announce it to the public until this week when it was reported in a journal of obstetrics and gynecology and it was confirmed that both patients were doing well.

The discovery could also help those suffering from other reproductive issues such as endometriosis or cancer who have their wombs removed. Women without wombs who wanted to start a family in the past were forced to employ surrogates or travel abroad for womb transplant surgery, neither of which was really a good option.

The procedure lasted nine hours and 20 minutes and the transplant is anticipated to last for a maximum of five years before the womb is removed. The woman will need to take immunosuppressant medications throughout any upcoming pregnancies to prevent her body from rejecting the donor organ.

Over the past 10 years, uterine transplants have been performed in more than 90 cases across the globe, the majority of which were living donors. The recipient’s ability to become pregnant and carry a child to term in her new womb will be the true test. She had IVF prior to the procedure using her own eggs (she was born with ovaries but no womb), and she anticipates soon having the embryos created in her donated womb implanted.

Since then, she has had three periods, which is considered positive evidence by medical professionals that her reproductive system is healthy. A Caesarean delivery will be required if she becomes pregnant. In order to prevent the need for protracted anti-rejection medicine, the transplanted uterus is typically removed once the family is complete.

The first womb transplant in Saudi Arabia occurred in 2000, but had to be removed after three months due to complications. Malin Stenberg became the first to give birth in 2014, with around 100 worldwide transplants. However, womb transplants have a higher failure rate than other life-saving transplants, with 20 percent failing from living donors and 28 percent from dead ones.

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