Womb Transplants

Doctors are racing to be the first to successfully transplant a womb from one woman to another so that a wombless woman will be able to give birth. And one British mother and daughter are hoping to be the guinea pigs for this revolutionary surgery. A hospital in Sweden is leading the race and hopes to perform the operation next year.

The Ottosson's

Eva Ottosson and her daughter Sara are in the womb transplantation experimental program and are waiting to see if they are suitable for this groundbreaking procedure. Eva, at 56, has had her children, while Sara suffers from Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which means she was born without a womb. She hopes that if the operation is successful she will be able to get pregnant through IVF using her own eggs and her partner's sperm. However at this stage it is too early to say what the outcome will be. Dr Mats Brannstrom, the leader of the medical team, says that although this procedure has been successfully carried out on a variety of animals from mice to pigs, it is a very complicated operation.

 The Op

The operation is technically much more difficult than doing a kidney, liver or a heart transplant, all of which were revolutionary at the time and are now quite common place. Doctors are not even agreed whether doing a womb transplant from a living donor would be more likely to make it easier to carry a pregnancy or if taking a womb from a dead donor would be better. One of the main problems according to Dr Brannstrom is having long enough blood vessels to be able connect the womb properly. His research to date has been published in the April 2011 edition of Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Getting Pregnant Afterwards

Doctors believe it will take about a year before the receiver of the transplant will be able to try to get pregnant. Due to the nature of the surgery they feel that the woman would have to have IVF treatment as there may be a higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy for someone with a transplanted womb. Assuming that the woman was able to carry the pregnancy to term, the birth would need to be caesarian section rather than a natural birth. This is because the transplanted womb might not be able to cope with the stresses of birth.

Temporary Solution

As transplant patients have to take immunosuppressant drugs, doctors expect that after one or at the most two pregnancies they will remove the transplanted womb. They would do this to prevent further risk to the woman's health because of the drugs.

Who Will Benefit?

Women who could expect to benefit from a womb transplant are women who like Sara Ottosson were born without wombs. Childless women, who had to have hysterectomies due to cancer treatment or for other medical reasons, would also benefit, as well perhaps as women whose wombs weren't able to sustain a pregnancy.

Once the procedure becomes common place we might even see transgender women or even men wanting to have a womb transplant so that they could experience the miracle of pregnancy and birth.


Although this treatment is just experimental at the moment, the charity Uterine Transplant UK is already raising money to help further the research so it can help women in the future.

Ethical Questions

Nevertheless questions about the safety of the procedure as well as the ethical advisability of doing it in the first place abound. Is it a step too far?
Check our site regularly for all the latest medical research about getting pregnant.

Login to comment

Post a comment