Doctors perform world’s first uterus transplant between a MOTHER and her DAUGHTER
- Two women in their thirties received their mother’s uterus
- They will need to wait for one year before undergoing IVF
- If procedure works it will be the first time a mother and daughter will have grown in the same womb
- Women stop producing eggs around the age of 50 but their wombs can remain viable past 60
Doctors have carried out the world’s first womb transplants between a mother and daughter.
Within the past few days, two women 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 between 32 and 37, and are from Sweden.
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The team from the University of Gothenburg performed the transplant operation on two consecutive days
The operations each lasted seven hours and were carried out at the weekend 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 following surgery for cervical cancer.
Both were still able to release eggs from their ovaries and underwent IVF before the operation to produce embryos. These have been frozen and doctors intend to implant them into the women’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.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
When the uterus is taken from the donor, an incision is made in the lower abdomen. The operation consists of removing the complete uterus from the surrounding tissue.
After the uterus has been detached from the donor it is placed on a bed of ice and blood vessels to the uterus are flushed with preservation solution.
From the time the organ has been lifted in to the receiver it takes between 20 and 40 minutes before the new blood vessels begin to function.
When the blood circulation is working effectively the uterus is connected to the patient’s vaginal top and fixed in the pelvis (above).
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 similar 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 expert 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 walking but are tired after surgery. The donating 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 Gothenburg’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 donated the organ by her older sister.
They are unable to have children unless they use a surrogate mother, which is illegal in Sweden – although it is allowed 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 transplants 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 removed due to cancer or gynaecological conditions.
Dr Gedis Grudzinskas, a leading consultant in infertility and gynaecology, said: ‘This is a potential advance for a small group of women but I am cautious about how widespread the implications will be. Applicability is limited.’