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Saudi Doctors transplant womb

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

12 March 2002

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[BioNews, London] Doctors in Saudi Arabia reported last week that they had performed the world's first human uterus transplant, raising hopes for childless couples whose only chance of a baby might be to use a surrogate. The operation was regarded by the doctors as successful and 'encouraging', despite the fact that complications forced the surgical removal of the organ after only 99 days.

The operation, performed in April 2000, was reported in this month's issue of the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. A healthy uterus, taken from a woman with ovarian cysts, was transplanted into a 26-year old woman who had undergone a hysterectomy. The organ was rejected by the woman's immune system at first, but this was controlled by '10 days of intensive immunosuppressive drug therapy'.

Later, the woman was injected with hormones to thicken the lining of the uterus. She completed two menstrual cycles before the complications developed. A scan revealed that a blood clot had formed in one of the arteries supplying blood to the uterus, preventing the supply of blood.

Some have called the operation a failure. Lord Robert Winston said 'it is not to be rated. It is a piece of journalistic trivia that will raise the hopes of women.' However, the operation has been described as a step towards restoring childbearing capacity in women who cannot become pregnant due to defects or absence of the uterus. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK called the transplant 'a very, very exciting development', saying that if the technique can be refined, it opens up the possibility of mothers donating their wombs to their daughters, or sisters to sisters.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 12 March 2002   Date Updated: 11 September 2004
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