Surgeons at Oxford have successfully carried out the first womb transplant in the UK.
The womb was donated by a 40-year-old woman to her 34-year-old sister who was born without a uterus. The donor already had two children and considers her family to be complete. The sisters live in England and have requested to remain anonymous.
The recipient was born with a rare condition known as Type 1 Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) in which the uterus is “absent or underdeveloped, but has functioning ovaries”.
The procedures were carried out by a team of 20 doctors which lasted around 17 hours in operating theatres at the Churchill hospital in February.
It has been six months since the transplant and according to the doctors, both the women have “recovered well from surgery”. The recipient has embryos in storage that will be transferred.
BBC reported that transplant surgeon Isabel Quiroga, who steered the team implanting the womb, said that the recipient was “absolutely over the moon, very happy, and is hoping that she can go on to have not one but two babies. Her womb is functioning perfectly and we are monitoring her progress very closely.”
Prof Richard Smith, gynaecological surgeon, who led the organ retrieval team, has spent 25 years researching womb transplantation. He told the BBC it was a “massive success”.
“The whole thing was emotional. I think we were all a bit tearful afterwards.”
The donor is currently on immunosuppressive drugs in order to prevent tissue rejection however, the uterus will be removed after a maximum of two pregnancies due to long-term health risks.
The first womb transplant surgery took place in Sweden in 2014 and the recipient successfully had a baby. She had received a womb from a friend in her 60s.
Since then, 100 womb transplants have been carried out across the globe and around 50 babies have been born — mainly in the US and Sweden, but also in Turkey, India, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Germany and France.
According to British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the surgeons in the UK were given permission to perform womb transplants in 2015, but “institutional delays” and Covid deferred it till now.