10 UK Women to Have Womb Transplants

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

10 infertile women the UK will have the opportunity to carry their own babies now that doctors have been granted approval for Britain’s first womb transplants.

The trial, which needs to see £5000 raised, will be led by Dr Richard Smith. The team hopes to carry out the first ever womb transplant in the UK following the procedure’s success in Sweden.

A special committee at Imperial College London has granted ethical approval for ten womb transplants to be carried out during a clinical trial.

The trial will begin in spring 2016 and more than 100 women have been chosen to potentially receive a donor womb.

Dr Smith described childlessness as a ‘disaster’ for some couples, but this procedure would provide hope to those whose only options are adoption or surrogacy.

Many women in the UK lose their womb as a result of cancer, and 1 in 5,000 British women are born without a womb.

The first British baby born as a result of a womb transplant could potentially arrive late in 2017 or early in 2018, with the hope of more to be born in the future.

Dr Smith is a consultant gynaecologist at the Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital and has dedicated 19 years to the project. He is delighted to have been given the green light for the trial, which last year saw the birth of a baby boy in Sweden.

He said infertility in women is difficult to treat. The option of surrogacy is available but it does not provide a solution for the desire many women have to carry their own child.

The 10 women chosen for the trial need to meet strict criteria. This includes being of a healthy weight, being aged 38 or under and having a long-term partner. The Womb Transplant UK Team has been approached by more than 300 women; 104 of these women met the criteria.

Prior to the beginning of the trial, each woman’s eggs and her partner’s sperm will be used to create and freeze embryos.

The women will then undertake a transplant operation for six hours. The wombs all come from donors who are classed as brain dead whose hearts have been kept beating. According to Dr Smith, wombs from deceased donors will be used due to the complexity of the operation could cause many difficulties for a living donor.

After a year of close monitoring and immunosuppressant drugs, the women will have one of their embryos implanted in the hopes of achieving a successful pregnancy.

Any baby born would be delivered by Caesarean section to prevent the donor womb going through the strains and stresses of labour.

Six months after giving birth, each of the women will have the option of trying for one more baby. Otherwise, the womb will be removed by surgeons. This is to minimise the risks of keeping women on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives as they have potentially dangerous side effects such as increased cancer risk.