Scientists from Sweden have successfully transferred a uterus into a sheep, and are now hopeful for a human womb transplants too. They explained that the operation proves that a womb can safely be removed and stored before being transplanted back into an animal.
Tests that were conducted on the animal have showed that the uterus was not damaged during surgery and is continuing to function normally. It was explained that if this operation could be perfected on humans, it could then help thousands of women with Rokitansky syndrome, which is a rare congenital condition that affects one in 5,000 women in which the uterus develops abnormally but the ovaries still function and also offer the chance to conceive naturally to many have suffered from damages caused due to cervical cancer or fibroids.
They explained that the procedure would give the approximate 200 women in UK per year who try to have their own biological children using surrogate mothers a chance to give birth naturally themselves.
Dr Mats Brannstrom at Goteburg University said that if the procedure was perfected then the human womb transplants could be attempted within five years. Stating, "Ideally, women would have a uterus donated from their mother or older sister, because there would be risk of it being rejected," he said. "This is really just borrowing an incubator for a short time."
It has been reported that in 2002, doctors in Saudi Arabia had attempted a womb transplant in a 26-year-old woman and were successful in achieving pregnancy too, but the baby did not survive to full term. Dr Brannstrom explained that he had performed the operation on a sheep because sheep wombs are almost similar in size to human wombs and they too usually give birth an offspring at a time.
The doctor explained that the patient who receives a womb transplant would only have the organ for a maximum of two years, and could have it removed on the birth of the child. Explaining that by having a temporary transplant, doctors could reduce the immune-suppressing drugs the patient would need, which are known to increase the side effects certain cancers.