Woman Undergoes Groundbreaking Womb Transplant From Her Sister in The UK For The First Time

credit: theguardian

UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – In Oxford, a groundbreaking uterine transplant procedure was successfully performed by a team of surgeons. This marked the first instance of such a surgery taking place in the UK.

The recipient of the womb was a 34-year-old woman, while her 40-year-old sister served as the anonymous donor. Both individuals are maintaining their anonymity by choice.

Medical professionals report that the surgery was a success, with both the recipient and the younger sister recovering well. The recipient and her husband have taken steps to preserve several embryos, which are currently in storage, awaiting the transfer process.

Procedure Was Carried Out By 30 Experts 

The intricate procedures, lasting approximately 17 hours, were carried out by a dedicated team of over 30 experts. These surgeries occurred simultaneously in adjacent operating theaters at the Churchill hospital in February.

Her sibling, who already had a pair of children and had fulfilled her family aspirations, resides in England alongside the recipient.Leading the organ retrieval team was Professor Richard Smith, a gynaecological surgeon who has invested a quarter-century in womb transplantation research. He described the procedure as an immense triumph and confessed that the experience had evoked strong emotions among the team, leaving them somewhat teary-eyed afterward.The team implanting the womb, under the guidance of transplant surgeon Isabel Quiroga, reported the recipient’s elation. The recipient was described as exuberant, harboring hopes not only for one but potentially two pregnancies. Her transplanted womb is functioning optimally, with close monitoring of her progress.

Uterus To Be Removed After Two Successful Pregnancies 

A fortnight post-surgery, the woman experienced her first post-operative period. As with other transplant recipients, she necessitates immunosuppressive medications to avert tissue rejection. However, these medications carry certain long-term health risks, prompting the plan to remove the uterus after a maximum of two successful pregnancies.

Born with Type 1 Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH), a rare condition causing the absence or underdevelopment of the uterus while retaining functional ovaries, she and her husband underwent fertility treatment before the surgery. Their efforts yielded eight stored embryos.

Both sisters underwent counseling before the surgery, and their case gained approval from the Human Tissue Authority. The incurred NHS costs, approximately £25,000, were graciously covered by the charity Womb Transplant UK. Over 30 personnel contributed their time voluntarily on the surgery day.

Womb Transplant UK To Conduct 15 More Transplants 

Chairman of Womb Transplant UK, Professor Smith, revealed the team’s authorization to conduct 15 transplants—five with live donors and ten with deceased donors—requiring an additional £300,000 for full funding.

He emphasized the sobering fact that over 15,000 women of childbearing age in the UK suffer from Absolute Uterine Factor Infertility, owing to conditions like congenital absence of the womb or hysterectomy due to ailments like cancer.

In 2014, a woman in Sweden became the pioneer in giving birth after a womb transplant. Her donor was a friend in her 60s. Following that milestone, approximately 100 womb transplants have occurred globally, resulting in around 50 births. Notable nations with such procedures include the US, Sweden, Turkey, India, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, and France.

Permission for womb transplants in the UK was granted in 2015. Delays attributed to institutional factors and the impact of Covid were highlighted in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology as reasons for the UK’s delayed initiation of the procedure.

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More Than 500 Women Have Expressed Interest In Transplant Program 

Womb Transplant UK disclosed that more than 500 women have expressed interest in the program, with approximately a dozen having embryos in storage or undergoing fertility treatments—both prerequisites for joining the waiting list.

Among them is Lydia Brain, 31, who underwent a hysterectomy due to womb cancer. Diagnosed at 24 after experiencing heavy bleeding and intermenstrual bleeding leading to anemia, Lydia and her partner invested £15,000 in fertility treatments, resulting in several stored embryos.

Lydia expressed her elation upon learning about the successful maiden womb transplant in the UK, labeling it a “miracle” accomplishment. In an interview, she shared her sentiments, stating, “Infertility was a massive aspect of the aftermath of my battle with cancer.

Its impact lingers daily, as reminders of expectant individuals, babies, and friends entering that life phase are unavoidable.” She conveyed that being included on the waiting list for a womb transplant would hold immense significance for her.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.