First UK womb transplant set for next spring
The first babies born in the UK as a result of a womb transplant could be delivered in just over two years after plans for a clinical trial were given the thumbs up.
The move will raise hope among the one in 5,000 women who are born without a womb, as well as those who have lost theirs as a result of cancer, that they will be able to carry their own child.
The trial, which requires £500,000 worth of funding to be raised, is set to start next spring and will see 10 British women without wombs receiving a transplant in a procedure which has already proved successful in Sweden.
The Womb Transplant UK trial team is to be led by Richard Smith, a consultant gynaecologist at London’s Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, who has been working on the project for almost 20 years.
Alternative to adoption
He says it is hoped the procedure will provide an alternative to surrogacy or adoption to women who cannot currently have a baby because they do not have a womb.
The team hopes the trial will result in the first babies being born in late 2017 or early 2018.
Mr Smith says with many couples viewing childlessness as a “disaster” the procedure, if successful, will pave the way for women without a womb to satisfy their desire to carry their own baby.
The 10 women taking part in the trial will all be 38 or younger and have a healthy weight and long-term partner.
Just over 100 women have been identified as potential recipients of a donor womb.
Prior to the six-hour transplant operation the women chosen to trial the procedure will have embryos created using their eggs and their partner’s sperm. The embryos will be frozen and then implanted into the women’s new wombs after 12 months’ treatment with immunosuppressant drugs following surgery.
Those who go on to have a successful pregnancy and give birth via a Caesarean section will get a chance to have a second baby before the transplanted womb is removed so they don’t have to remain on the immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives.