In 1999, at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden the uterus transplantation research project begun. The goal of this project is to enable women who were born without a womb or who have lost their wombs in cancer surgery to give birth to their own children.
So far, a total of nine women have received a womb from live donors. In most cases the woman’s mother was the uterus donor even though they were cases of other family members and close friends donating their uterus.
The transplanted uterus was removed in two cases due to complications and the seven remaining women have tried in 2014 to become pregnant through a process where their own embryos, produced through IVF, are reintroduced to the transplanted uterus.
In September, a 36-year old Swedish woman gave birth to the first baby born after a uterus transplantation. The news has been published in the journal Lancet over the weekend.
The baby’s name is Vincent and he was delivered by caesarean section to a 36-year-old woman who was born with congenital absence of the uterus, a condition known as Rokitansky syndrome. She received the uterus of a postmenopausal 61-year-old family friend who had previously born two children, according to the Lancet.
The woman became pregnant 1 year after the transplantation, after her first single embryo transfer. She then began taking triple immunosuppression medications (tacrolimus, azathioprine, and corticosteroids), which she continued for the remainder of the pregnancy.
She experienced three episodes of mild rejection, one of which happened during pregnancy, and corticosteroid treatment reversed them all.
At 31 weeks and 5 days gestation, she was admitted to the hospital with preeclampsia and the baby was delivered 16 hours later. According to Professor Mats Brännström, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, who led the research and performed the caesarean section, the perfectly healthy newborn boy is developing normally.
‘It gives us scientific evidence that the concept of uterus transplantation can be used to treat uterine factor infertility, which up to now has remained the last un-treatable form of female infertility,” he said. “It also shows that transplants with a live donor are possible, including if the donor is past menopause.”
Vincent’s mother was born without a womb and at the age of 15 learnt that she would never be able to have a baby of her own. “I have always had this large sorrow because I never thought I would be a mother,” she said. “And now the impossible has become real.
“As soon as I felt this perfect baby boy on my chest, I had tears of happiness and enormous relief. I felt like a mother the first time I touched my baby and was amazed that we finally did it.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, two more women are pregnant and are expected to give birth before the end of the year.
This project is an indication that you should never lose hope. It is a project that, in time, may replace surrogate motherhood, in which an unrelated woman is implanted with an embryo fertilised in vitro by the child’s genetic parents. It is a project that offers hope to many women and men that thought they would never have a child, that thought they were truly out of hope. Hope!
(Source: University of Gothenburg)