A WOMAN is set become the first in the world to give birth from a transplanted womb as a result of pioneering surgery which introduced an embryo into her body.
The woman, who has a genetic condition that means she was born without a womb, had the embryo transferred by doctors last week. She was one of nine to receive pioneering transplants last year.
The transplanted womb was donated by the woman’s mother, so a baby would also be the first born to a woman using the same womb from which she emerged herself.
The egg from which the embryo was grown was the woman’s own. The development in Sweden holds out hope for up to 200,000 women in Europe, including thousands in Britain.
“The best scenario is a baby in nine months,” said Dr Mats Brannstrom, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg, who led the transplant team.
“A success would be an important proof of principle that a procedure is now available to cure uterine infertility.”
Earlier this month, Dr Brannstrom revealed that all nine of the womb transplants his team had performed between September 2012 and last April had been successful, with only minor complications.
Eight of the recipients suffer from MRKH syndrome, a congenital disorder that affects one in 5,000 women and prevents the womb from developing.
The ninth had her womb removed after suffering cervical cancer.
Women with the syndrome have intact ovaries and produce eggs, which can be fertilised outside their bodies like other “test-tube” babies.
Attempts to enable the Swedish women to bear children are being followed closely by would-be mothers around the world.
“When I read about it, I cried for many hours,” said Sandra Boine, a 26-year-old Norwegian sales assistant with the condition.
She believes a hospital in her home country may eventually be willing to perform a similar operation: “It means a lot because I’ve now got a chance to make a child on my own. There’s hope for us now.”
She said that her mother and sister had each offered to donate their womb to her, if the Swedish procedure proved successful.
Dr Brannstrom said that because the operation was so new, it was impossible to estimate the chance of success.
“We know the pregnancy rate in the normal population − the chance for one embryo would be about 25 per cent − so it may take some trials until we get a pregnancy, or we may be lucky and get a pregnancy first time. We don’t know.”
A woman is only considered pregnant when an embryo successfully implants in the uterine wall.
Dr Brannstrom said that the nine women who had received womb transplants had already been deeply affected by the experience: “Some of them say that it’s fantastic just to have a period. They say: ‘Now I feel like a real woman, a normal woman, for the first time.’”