A remarkable new surgical procedure could provide more women a chance to give birth. Recently, Scadinavian surgeons were able to carry out nine successful womb transplants, thereby giving women born without a uterus — and those who have lost their uterus to cervical cancer — the opportunity to have children.
This kind of surgery has been performed before in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. However, in neither case were women able to use a new uterus to produce children.
It’s not yet clear if the Swedish doctors and their patients involved in these most recent transplants will have any more luck. The women received the wombs from relatives and will now attempt to conceive.
However, this won’t be your typical conception process. Because surgeons did not link the transplanted uteruses to the women’s fallopian tubes, they will not be able to get pregnant in the natural fashion. Instead, doctors will use eggs removed prior to the operation for in vitro fertilization.
University of Gothenburg medical expert Dr. Mats Brannstrom admits that there’s a lot of uncertainty around the procedure. “This is a new kind of surgery,” Brannstrom said. “We have no textbook to look at.”
“What remains to be seen is whether this is a viable option or if this is going to be confined to research and limited experimentation,” Brannstrom added.
Still, there’s hope. Just six weeks following the operation many of the women began having periods — it’s a sign the doctors say suggests the transplated uterus is functioning just as it should.
If successful, the Swedish project could allow thousands of infertile women the chance to have children.