First-Ever UK Womb Donation Fills Woman with Happiness and Hope
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First-Ever UK Womb Donation Fills Woman with Happiness and Hope

Surgeons have performed the first womb transplant in the United Kingdom, making it possible for dozens of infertile women to have children annually. The woman’s sister was the living donor of the womb.

According to the medical team behind the groundbreaking procedure, the 34-year-old was “incredibly happy” and “over the moon” with the outcome of the nine-hour operation. She now intends to use IVF to have two children.

The married woman was born with a rare condition that caused her womb to be underdeveloped. She received a donor womb from her 40-year-old sister, who was already the mother of two children.

Over 90 womb transplants have been performed internationally, including in Sweden, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Germany, Serbia, and India, with living donors in most cases.

As a result, approximately 50 infants have been born.

The co-lead surgeon Isabel Quiroga, a consultant surgeon at the Oxford Transplant Centre, part of Oxford University hospitals, said she was “thrilled” and “extremely proud” the surgery had succeeded.

The patient is “incredibly happy,” she said, adding: “She 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.”

A second womb transplant in the United Kingdom is scheduled for another woman this autumn, and more patients are in the preparation stages. Surgeons are authorized to perform ten procedures involving brain-dead donors and five procedures involving living donors.

The recipient, who resides in England and requested anonymity, received her sister’s uterus at Churchill hospital in Oxford in February. It took nine hours and twenty minutes, but she was well enough to leave the hospital after ten days.

Prof Richard Smith, clinical lead at the charity Womb Transplant UK and consultant gynaecological surgeon at Imperial College London, said the procedure was a “massive success.”

The woman who received the womb had Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH), a rare condition that affects one in every 5,000 women.

Women with MRKH have an underdeveloped vagina and an underdeveloped or absent uterus. The first sign of the condition is the absence of menstruation in adolescent girls.

However, their ovaries are still functional and can produce eggs and female hormones, making conception through fertility treatment possible.

Before receiving her sister’s uterus, the woman underwent two cycles of fertility stimulation to produce eggs, followed by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to create embryos.

Five blastocyst-stage embryos, which are likely to succeed in in vitro fertilization, were frozen for use later in the year at the Lister fertility clinic in central London.

The transplant is expected to last a maximum of five years before the womb is removed.

Preparation and Community Backing

Surgeons have performed the first womb transplant in the United Kingdom, making it possible for dozens of infertile women to have children annually. (Photo by The Mirror via YouTube)

During the surgical procedure involving a team of over 30 staff, the elder sister’s womb was removed in an eight-hour and twelve-minute operation. Just an hour prior, surgeons had initiated the operation on the younger sister. 

Both sisters underwent extensive counseling and were evaluated by medical professionals, including gynecologists, transplant surgeons, psychologists, and more. Their consent was confirmed by an independent assessor from the Human Tissue 

Authority to ensure they were informed of the risks and entered the surgery willingly. The HTA panel granted permission for the surgery after review. The procedure’s cost of £25,000 was covered by donations to Womb Transplant UK. 

The procedure is expected to benefit a limited number of women, with approximately 20 to 30 cases per year, primarily those born without functional wombs and those who lost their wombs to conditions like cancer.

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Source: The Guardian

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