Women Receive First Mother-to-Daughter Womb Transplants

According to officials at the University of Goteborg in Sweden, two Swedish women received the world’s first mother-to-daughter uterine transplants at the Sahlgrenska Hospital and are doing well.

Both recipients are in their 30s and received the uteri from their biological mothers. The first transplant recipient had her uterus removed several years ago following a bout with cervical cancer. The second woman was born without a uterus.

Prior to both uterine transplants, both women underwent a procedure to harvest their eggs. The embryos were then fertilized and frozen. Within the next seven months, both women will receive an embryo transfer and may be able to give birth in an estimated 16 months.

The transplants officially took place in September of 2012, and both women have successfully accommodated the transplants to date. This comes after Goteborg University spent more than a decade researching and developing the procedures.

Dr. Mats Brannstrom

A team of more than 10 surgeons, led by chief physician Dr. Mats Brannstrom, trained together for several years before attempting the surgery. “So far, the procedures have been a success, but the final proof will be the birth of a healthy child,” Dr. Michael Olausson, surgeon and professor, told CNN.

The main goal of the surgeries is to provide hope for those without uteri, as in Sweden alone there are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 women of childbearing age who fall into this category. In the year 2000, doctors in Saudi Arabia attempted the procedure that failed after three months due to a blood clot.

According to Olausson, the chances for organ rejection are expected to be lower for the two Swedish women because their donors are both family members. Plus, he suggested that the “emotional connection” between both mothers and daughters is an extremely important factor.  Doctors are closely monitoring both women to assure they are reacting well to the prescribed anti-rejection drugs.

The transplanted wombs will in theory accommodate up to two pregnancies. The wombs will then be removed and the women taken off of anti-rejection drugs, which can cause a number of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and swelling. Additionally, the drugs have been noted to increase an individual’s risk of cancer.

In a USA Today interview Scott Nelson, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland agreed that if the procedure works and pregnancies result in the coming months, this will be a major breakthrough for the world of medicine. “At present, the only option for these women is to have a surrogacy — i.e., having their embryos implanted into another woman.”

Nelson theorized that the major concern is the proper development of the women’s potential babies, as the donated wombs contain less blood vessels than the average uterus.

The doctors at the University of Goteborg remain confident that the uterus transplants will be a success. Olausson isn’t fearful that the anti-rejection drugs will cause problems with the fetuses. The ultimate success will be the birth of healthy babies in the coming months.