Womb transplants a new frontier in fertility

Pregnancy

A pioneering womb transplant trial may make the baby dreams of countless families come true.

Swedish doctors transplanted nine wombs – five from mother to daughter – at Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg more than a year ago. Of those, five recipients have undergone IVF since January this year, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Research leader Dr Mats Brannstrom will not reveal whether any of the womb recipients are successfully pregnant, but the results are keenly anticipated around the world. And Australian women without wombs are already lining up for a transplant if it becomes available here.

Adelaide woman Kristen Male, 23, tells the Sydney Morning Herald a congenital disorder, MRKH, prevented her womb from developing – but her mother has agreed to donate her own womb if and when the operation comes to Australia.

”To me it doesn’t feel like getting somebody else’s body part, I feel like it’s my chance to have my own baby,” she says.

Queensland gynaecologist Dr Ash Hanafry, a member of Dr Brannstrom’s team, says he has the names of five hundred Australian women interested in the transplant. And they may not have to wait long – Dr Hanafry tells the newspaper he hopes to bring the operation to Australia in 2016 if the Swedish trials prove successful.

The complicated thirteen-hour transplants are not without controversy, because they are not about saving lives. The Swedish trials are using live donors, while other research teams attempting the feat prefer to use deceased people to minimise risk.

Royal Hospital for Women MRKH expert Dr Rebecca Deans warns it might be some time before the procedures become routine. She says even if the Swedish trial results in a healthy baby, it will be years before doctors know of any long-term effects.

(Image via TipsTimes, Flickr)

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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