A woman has received a womb donated from her sister in the first womb transplant carried out by surgeons in the UK.
Her 40-year-old sister already has two children so was happy to donate it so she could have fertility treatment with the view to carrying a baby.
The recipient, who does not want to be named, had the transplant in an operation that went on for just over nine hours at Churchill Hospital in Oxford in early February.
Professor Richard Smith, one of the lead surgeons, said the experience had been “quite remarkable” and described how it had been “a massive success” and that they could now go ahead with plans for IVF.
The 34-year-old recipient, who lives in England, already has a set of embryos and is excited to go through her IVF journey later in the year.
Professor Smith, consultant gynaecological surgeon at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “It was incredible. I think it was probably the most stressful week in my surgical career but also unbelievably positive. The donor and recipient are over the moon.”
He said he felt “emotional about it all”, adding that, during the “first consultation with the recipient post-op, we were all almost in tears”.
The complex surgery involved more than 30 staff and cost approximately £25,000. It was paid for by donations to the charity Womb Transplant UK. The talented team of surgeons carried out the procedure for free.
Sweden led the way
The first ever successful uterus transplant was performed in Sweden in 2014. The surgery was led by Mats Brännström, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Gothenburg. The recipient of the transplant was a 36-year-old woman who was born without a uterus. The donor was her 61-year-old mother.
The transplant was a success, and the woman was able to carry a pregnancy to term. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl in 2015. This was the first time that a baby had been born after a uterus transplant.
Since then, there have been other successful uterus transplants around the world. As of 2023, there have been over 100 uterus transplants performed, resulting in about 50 live births.
The uterus transplant is still a relatively new procedure, and there are some risks involved. However, it is a promising option for women who are unable to carry a pregnancy due to a congenital absence of the uterus or other medical conditions.
Several other countries have performed this surgery
Here are some of the other countries where uterus transplants have been performed:
- United States
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
The success rate of uterus transplants varies from country to country. In Sweden, the success rate is over 80%. In the United States, the success rate is about 50%.
The success depends on a number of factors, including the age and health of the recipient, the condition of the donated uterus, and the experience of the surgical team.
Overall, uterus transplants are a promising new option for women who are unable to carry a pregnancy.