Female infertility is a sensitive issue that affects approximately 48 million women worldwide. Several factors affects fertility, including genetic factors and various acquired factors (ex. infections, eating disorders, and chemotherapy). Uterine malformations or fibroids may also interfere with pregnancy. On rare occasion (approximately 1/ 4,500), women may even be born without a uterus, something which certainly interferes with fertility.
Fortunately, recent research in Sweden by Dr. Mats Brannstrom, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Gothenburg in Sweden resulted in the first successful pregnancy and delivery after uterine transplant (September 2014). The transplant involved detachment of the womb from the donor, and then a different team of surgeons delicately inserted the uterus and its respective blood vessels into the recipient, a woman who had born without a uterus.
This procedure has not yet been successfully performed in the United States. Opponents of the surgery claim that this elective surgery, which is not a lifesaving procedure (such as a heart or lung transplant), places both uterine donor and recipient at risk. Furthermore, as with any organ transplant recipient, the woman is required to take immunosuppressive medication for the duration of the foreign organ remaining in her body. Therefore, the plan for this surgery is for the uterus to be removed after the woman delivers the amount of desired children in order to allow her to terminate immunosuppressive medication. However, as the procedure becomes refined and perfected, it will probably become more accepted within the medical community due to the potential benefits.
Furthermore, Brannstrom predicts that within five to ten years, additional medical advances may obviate the need for a uterine donor altogether- namely, that doctors will be able to create a uterus from the woman’s very own cells. An additional benefit of this type of procedure is that the recipient will not need immunosuppressive medication AT ALL, and there is a decreased risk of organ rejection. For Brannstrom, the possibilities are endless. May he have continued success with all his amazing endeavors in order to bring babies and joy into the world.