Doctors at the University of Goteborg in Sweden have carried out the first successful mother-to-daughter uterus transplants, according to an announcement made this morning. The doctors are saying they won’t count it a complete success until “it results in children,” but for now, they’re celebrating a major step along the way.
The women, both in their thirties, underwent IVF treatment–hormonal treatments, egg harvesting, and egg fertilization–then received the new uteruses from their mothers. (One woman was born without a uterus, another had hers removed several years ago due to cervical cancer, but both had functional ovaries so that they.) So long as the transplants are successful and both women are healthy, scientists say they’ll transfer the embryos.
This introduces all kinds of possibilities for women who were previously unable to undergo pregnancy due to lack of uterus or complications. But it also raises a lot of questions about the long-term health impact on women receiving the transplant. Scott Nelson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Glasgow, spoke to Washington Post about some of the risks:
In terms of the risk to the pregnancy, the greatest concerns are the placenta not developing normally, the baby not growing properly and being born prematurely. Pre-term birth is a major risk, i.e. a small baby being born, that’s what you’d mainly be worried about.
But he doesn’t touch on the impact of hormone treatments, surgery, and long-term risks for women actually receiving the transplant.
In 2000, a Saudi woman received a transplant from a live donor, but had to have it removed three months later due to a blood clot. Last year, Turkish doctors completed a transplant from a deceased donor, but she hasn’t gotten pregnant yet or had it long enough to observe long-term effects.