'Womb transplant' hope for women

A team at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg has successfully tested the procedure on laboratory rats in a new project investigating womb transplants and it hopes to try the transplant with a human within two years.

Dr Cesar Diaz-Garcia, who led the team, said, "This is a breakthrough, fantastic news for patients who do not have a functioning uterus and want to have children. Until now no one has been able to prove pregnancy is possible after transplantation.

"We have overcome one of the last steps in achieving this and our aim is to get a human pregnancy using these techniques within two years."

Added Professor Mats Brannstrom, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and ­Gynaecology at Sweden's University of Gothenburg, where the project is being carried out: "This is a clinical­situation ­comparable to transplantation between unrelated humans."

The work has raised the prospect of ­creating a male pregnancy with a donor uterus and fertility treatment. However Dr Diaz-Garcia insisted: "We are not carrying out work in this area."

The doctor, an obstetrician who has been collaborating with researchers from the University of Valencia, Spain, predicted that in the future wombs could be harvested from people who are brain dead, living donors or even relatives to minimise the risk of rejection, the 'Sunday Express' reported.

The transplanted womb would be connected to the recipient’s blood supply and would stay in place only long enough for a woman to have the children she wanted.

Any baby would have to be delivered by Caesarean section as a transplanted human womb would be unlikely to withstand ­natural labour. During the C-section the womb could be removed at the same time, thereby minimising the risk of side effects from longer term use of ­anti-rejection drugs.

However, the breakthrough has received a ­cautious welcome from fertility experts.
Susan Seenan, spokeswoman for the UK's Infertility Network, said: "This will be good news for patients who have no other hope of carrying a baby. However, there are a lot of moral and ethical considerations to be taken into account."

A human transplant was tried in Saudi Arabia in 2000 but the womb, from a live donor, was rejected after three months. Experts suggested it may have failed because surgeons had not worked out how to connect the blood vessels properly.

The findings are to be published in an upcoming edition of the 'Scandanavian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology'.

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