Womb transplants have never been performed in the UK before, leaving women who don't have the ability to carry their own babies with very limited options if they want to become mothers. Pregnancy is surely a very trying and emotional journey, but ultimately one of the most rewarding experiences a woman can have. So it must come as a very promising sign to infertile British women that UK doctors will move forward with ten womb transplants.
Dr. Richard Smith, consultant gynecologist at the Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London, has been working to make the project a reality for 19 years. Some 1 in 5,000 women are born without a womb, while others lose their womb to cancer, resulting in surrogacy or adoption as the only remaining paths to motherhood. Smith's procedure will see participants undergoing a six-hour operation to receive a womb from a donor who is classed as brain dead, but whose heart has been kept beating.
The 10 women who will be the first to receive womb transplants in the UK must be 38 or under, have a long-term partner and maintain a healthy body weight. More than 300 women approached Smith's team, with 104 meeting those criteria. After a year on immunosuppressant drugs and close monitoring, each woman who receives the operation will be implanted with one of her embryos. Any baby that results from a successful transplant and impregnation would be delivered by Caesarean section to prevent the donor womb from being subjected to the stresses of labor.
It may be a small start, but if successful, a life-changing solution to women who are unable to conceive and suffer from the pain of childlessness.
Cover image: Pixabay