The First 10 Women In The UK Given The Go Ahead For Womb Transplants
There is new hope for British women unable to carry their own children, as a clinical trial to allow 10 women to undergo womb transplants has been granted ethical approval.
The news comes following a successful procedure on a woman in Sweden who gave birth to a baby boy last year. And with plans for the project to start next spring, the first British baby born as the result of a womb transplant could arrive as soon as late 2017.
A consultant gynaecologist at the Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea hospital, who's been working on the initiative for nearly 20 years, said he was 'really, really pleased' to obtain ethical approval for the transplants from Imperial College.
'For many couples, childlessness is a disaster. Infertility is a difficult thing to treat for these women,' he said. 'Surrogacy is an option but it does not answer the deep desire that women have to carry their own baby. For a woman to carry her own baby – that has to be a wonderful thing.'
100 women have been identified as potential candidates for the operation. There were 300 women who approached Womb Transplant UK to see if they were eligible for the trial, though only a third met the criteria. They had under 38, have functioning ovaries and their own eggs, as well as a long-term partner, and be deemed a healthy weight.
Explaining how the procedure is made possible, lead surgeon Dr Smith, told BBC Radio 4 that the wombs would come from 'heart beating' but 'brain dead' donors. In an operation lasting six hours, the women would need to have an embryo created and frozen prior to the operation. Coordinaters of the project have estimated that there could be about five wombs a year available for the operation.
Six months after giving birth the women would have the choice to try for a second child or to have the womb removed, this would help them to avoid the risk of them having to stay on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives.
The trial needs to raise £50,000 before it can take place, with each operation estimated to cost around £40,000, according to BBC News. You can donate towards the project here.
The news is a life-changing prospect for the one in 5,000 women - 50,000 of child-bearing age - in Britain who were either born without a womb, plus more who have had theirs removed due to cancer.
The first baby born via womb trasplant in Sweden to a 36-year-old woman was named Vincent, which means 'to win' in Latin. The new mother said: 'As soon as I felt this perfect baby boy on my chest, I had tears of happiness and enormous relief.'