A 36-year-old woman in Sweden has become the first in the world to give birth after receiving a womb transplant.
The mother, who was born without a uterus, received a donated uterus from her close family friend -who was in her sixties. She prematurely delivered a healthy baby boy by caesarean section. Both mother and son are living healthy and doing well now.
According to the British medical journal, The Lancet, the baby boy was born in September weighing 1.8kg (3.9lb). The uterus was transplanted in 2013 during a 10-hour operation.
The mother was faced with pre-eclampsia in week 31 of pregnancy causing the baby to be born prematurely in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The unnamed father reported that his son was “amazing” after the operation, giving incredible hope to those who have either lost their uterus to cancer, or were born without one. The option of surrogacy was the only alternative widely made available before the birth of this baby, with this incredible story being the hopeful starting point to another alternative.
During an anonymous telephone interview, the father added:
“It was a pretty tough journey over the years, but we now have the most amazing baby. He is very, very cute, and he doesn’t even scream, he just murmurs.
One day he can look at the newspaper articles about how he was born and know that he was the first in the world.”
The professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Gothenburg and Stockholm IVF, Dr. Mats Brannstrom, who led the research and the transplant team, described the baby saying he is “fantastic.” He added:
“But it is even better to see the joy in the parents and how happy he made them.”
He told the Lancet:
“That was a fantastic happiness for me and the whole team, but it was an unreal sensation also because we really could not believe we had reached this moment.
Our success is based on more than 10 years of intensive animal research and surgical training by our team and opens up the possibility of treating many young females worldwide that suffer from uterine infertility.”
Former President of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies and a Cornell University fertility specialist, Dr. Glenn Schattman, ensured that womb transplants are still exceptional, saying:
“This would not be done unless there were no other options, it requires a very long surgery and not without risk and complications.”
This experience was not the only one; it was one of 7 other cases, in which women successfully underwent a womb transplant from a live donor.
The idea of womb transplantation started in the year 1998 when Dr. Brannstrom was working in Australia. This medical success is considered the outcome of more than 10 years of Swedish and international research collaboration.
Dr. Brannstrom and his team are expecting more success within this realm in the future. Many countries are scheduled to try similar operations; with France, Japan and Turkey being on the list. Dr. Brannstrom expressed that even he was surprised that a 60-year-old uterus was so successful and revealed that other hospitals around Europe, the United States, Australia and China had been waiting for results of the Swedish research before beginning their own programs. He said:
“When we have the results of other studies, we will know how effective the procedure is and what the risks are.”
Part of the process also included the mother going through in-vitro fertilization; as well as 3 medications in order to make her body accept the new organ. Six weeks later, she got her menstrual period – the expected mark to make sure the womb was healthy.
The Gynecology Surgeon, Liza Johannesson, talked to AP about the operation saying:
“It has a huge impact because it gives hope to those women (and men also, of course,) who thought they would never have a child.”
However, not all of the opinions towards the procedure were positive. Some said that taking an organ from a live body is something immoral because the operation is not life-saving. Doctors also revealed that the drugs used to enforce the body to accept the new womb could be damaging in the long term. The obstetrics chief at the University of Colorado in Denver, Dr. Nanette Santoro, had this to say:
“Most couples will do just about anything to have a baby. We need to see this happen a little bit more and see how safe it is, it’s not clear to me how many women would choose this, because it seems pretty arduous.”
Dr. Allan Pacey, the chairman of the British Fertility Society, talked to BBC saying:
“I think it is brilliant and revolutionary and opens the door to many infertile women.
The scale of it feels a bit like IVF. It feels like a step change. The question is: can it be done repeatedly, reliably and safely?”
The operation, which costs around 100,000 euros, could become common in the future.
A video released by RT can be downloaded here.
More details about this operation are expected to be published soon in the Lancet.