In a pioneering medical feat, the UK witnessed its first-ever womb transplant, where the recipient was a woman, and the living donor was her older sister. The surgery, lasting over nine hours, was conducted at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. The recipient, a 34-year-old woman, remains anonymous but is hopeful of having two children in the future.
After having two kids, the 40-year-old donor willingly gave her womb to her younger sister. The woman who now has a new womb has stored embryos, aiming for IVF treatments later this year.
This groundbreaking procedure was spearheaded by Professor Richard Smith, from Womb Transplant UK and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, alongside Isabel Quiroga, from the Oxford Transplant Centre. Expressing their experiences, both surgeons shared their optimism about the surgery’s success and future prospects for the recipient.
Born with the Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, the recipient lacks a developed womb, which affects about 1 in 5,000 women. However, with functional ovaries, fertility treatments remain a viable option for her. With eight embryos frozen at the Lister Fertility Clinic in London, she awaits her IVF procedure.
Despite the transplant’s success, the recipient must consume immunosuppressant drugs throughout any potential pregnancy, with the womb estimated to last up to five years before removal.
Another similar transplant is in the pipeline for this fall, with more patients preparing for it.
Funded by donations to the Womb Transplant UK charity, the £25,000 transplant was performed by surgeons and medical staff who volunteered their time. The long-term goal is to offer this procedure to other potential candidates, potentially 20 to 30 per year.
Non-relatives might also become donors in the future, broadening the possibilities of this transformative surgery.
NHS officials and medical experts have congratulated the team on their significant achievement, viewing it as a potential game-changer in reproductive medicine.