Surgeons at Oxford University accomplished the first successful womb transplant in the United Kingdom.
The 34-year-old female receiver and her 40-year-old sister donor both choose to remain anonymous at this time.
Both patients have reportedly made full recoveries from their procedures, and the younger sister and her husband are preparing to undergo an embryo transfer using several embryos that have been frozen and kept at this time.
The treatments, which took place in February at the Churchill Hospital and lasted for roughly 17 hours, were performed by a team of more than 30 individuals in adjacent operating theatres.
Since her sister already had two kids, she decided she was done having kids of her own. My two sisters both live in the United Kingdom.
Professor Richard Smith, a gynaecological surgeon who oversaw the organ retrieval team, has spent the last quarter century studying the possibility of womb transplantation. He said it was a “massive success” in a BBC interview.
As reported by the team’s leader, transplant surgeon Isabel Quiroga, the recipient of the womb transplant was pleased. The transplant doctor remarked, “She was absolutely over the moon, very happy, and is hoping that she can go on to have not one but two babies.” We are keeping a tight check on her progress, and her uterus is developing normally.
The woman’s first period started two weeks after the operation. To keep her immune system from attacking the new organ or tissue, she must take immunosuppressant drugs, just like every other transplant recipient. The uterus will be removed when a woman has carried no more than two children due to the potential negative implications on her health.
She has ovaries that are fully functional but was born without a uterus due to the extremely unusual condition known as Type 1 Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH). She and her husband had fertility treatment before the operation, and now they have eight embryos frozen.
The Human Tissue Authority reviewed both patients’ circumstances and gave its blessing after they underwent pre-operative counselling. Womb Transplant UK, a nonprofit organisation, paid for everything that the NHS incurred, which was estimated to be over $25,000. More than thirty employees attended the event, and all of them did so without being compensated.
Prof. Smith, Chairman of Womb Transplant UK, said that the team had been given permission to perform 15 transplants in total (5 with living donors and 10 with deceased, brain-dead donors), but that they needed an additional £300,000 in funding to cover the costs of the procedures.
He said, “The shocking truth is that right now in this country, more than 15,000 women of childbearing age are suffering from Absolute Uterine Factor Infertility.” They were either born without a womb or have had one removed for medical reasons (such as cancer or a malformation of the uterus).
A Swedish woman gave birth in 2014 to the world’s first kid born after a successful womb transplant. A woman in her sixties was kind enough to offer her womb to her.
About fifty babies have been born as a result of the one hundred womb transplants that have been conducted worldwide since then. While the United States and Sweden account for the lion’s share of these births, other countries like Turkey, India, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, and France have also seen a rise in their numbers.
The year 2015 was significant because it was the first year when doctors in the UK were given permission to perform womb transplants. The scientists cited covid and “institutional delays” as the reasons for the UK’s lengthy wait before performing its first procedure in their publication for the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Womb Transplant UK reported that over 500 women have contacted the organisation to express interest in participating. About a dozen of these women were also undergoing fertility treatment or had frozen embryos in storage, another prerequisite for being placed on the waiting list.
One of them is 31-year-old Lydia Brain. She was found to have uterine cancer and needed a hysterectomy as a result. She had been anaemic due to years of heavy periods and bleeding in between her cycles before she was eventually diagnosed at the age of 24. They spent around £10,000 on reproductive treatment and are currently holding onto six frozen embryos.
Lydia was overjoyed to learn that the first womb transplant in the United Kingdom had been a success, calling the operation “miraculous.”
“Infertility was a huge part of the impact my cancer had on my life,” she stated in a BBC interview. You can’t help but be affected by pregnancy and parenthood on a daily basis, either through direct experience or through the influence of those around you.
She said it “would mean everything” to her to be put on the transplant waiting list so she could “carry my own child and have that experience, being able to breastfeed and to have a newborn baby, at least once.” She also hopes to “carry my own child and have that experience, being able to have a newborn baby, at least once.”
Lydia said that she would consider both surrogacy and adoption, but she understood that both were difficult choices. To illustrate, she said, “the laws and the process are very difficult,” and that “you often don’t get a newborn baby” when you adopt.
Lydia now dedicates her time to the nonprofit organisation Eve Appeal, which funds and promotes the study of the five forms of gynaecological cancer (uterine, ovarian, cervical, vulvar, and vaginal).