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World's first womb transplant planned in UK

Jun 14, 2011

A British based businesswoman is
preparing to make history by becoming the
first person in the world to have her womb
transplanted into her daughter.
Eva Ottosson, 56, has agreed to take part in
a groundbreaking new medical procedure,
which if successful could see her donate her
uterus to her 25-year-old daughter Sara.
Doctors hope if the transplant is successful
Sara, who was born without reproductive
organs, could become pregnant and carry a
child in the same womb from which she
herself was born.
It is hoped the complex transplant operation
could take place as early as next spring in
Sweden, where doctors in Gothenburg have
been assessing suitable patients for the
revolutionary procedure.
Mrs Ottosson, who runs a lighting business
in Nottingham, said:“My daughter and I are
both very rational people and we both think
‘it’s just a womb’.
“She needs the womb and if I’m the best
donor for her … well, go on. She needs it
more than me. I’ve had two daughters so it’s
served me well.”
The only previous womb transplant took
place in Saudi Arabia in 2000 when a 26-
year-old woman, who had lost her uterus
due to haemorrhage, received a donated
womb from a 46-year-old.
However the recipient developed problems
and the womb had to be removed after 99
days.
Since then medical knowledge of the
surgical procedure has improved and a
team in Gothenburg, Sweden, believe they
are at the stage where they can perform a
successful transplant.
Sara, who lives and works in Stockholm, has
a condition called Mayer Rokitansky Kuster
Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which affects
around 1 in 5,000 people, and means she
was born without a uterus and some parts
of the vagina.
The cause is unknown but like many women
with the condition Sara only realised she
was missing her reproductive organs when
she was a teenager and failed to begin
menstruating.
If the procedure works, Sara will have her
own eggs fertilised using her boyfriend’s
sperm and then implanted into her donated
womb.
Sara said she was unconcerned about the
implications of receiving the womb that she
herself was carried in.
She said: “I haven’t really thought about
that. I’m a biology teacher and it’s just an
organ like any other organ. But my mum did
ask me about this. She said‘isn’t it weird?’
And my answer is no. I’m more worried that
my mum is going to have a big operation.”
She added: “It would mean the world to me
for this to work and to have children. At the
moment I am trying not to get my hopes up
so that I am not disappointed. But we have
also been thinking about adoption for a
long time and if the transplant fails then we
will try to adopt.”
Dr Mats Brannstrom, who is leading the
medical team, said a womb transplant
remained one of the most complex
operations known to medical science.
He said: “Technically it is lot more difficult
than transplanting a kidney, liver or heart.
The difficulty with it is avoiding
haemorrhage and making sure you have
long enough blood vessels to connect the
womb.
“You are also working deep down in the
pelvis area and it is like working in a funnel.
It is not like working with a kidney, which is
really accessible.”
Mrs Ottosson said she hoped by talking
about the operation it would help bring
attention to an otherwise rarely publicised
condition.
She said: “The girls who have MRKH are a
silent group who don’t like to talk about it.
So we hope that this will help those girls
and that by talking about the condition we
can encourage medical science to pinpoint
what causes it.”
Sara and her mother are among a small
group chosen to take part in the
programme.
They have undergone tests and are now
waiting to hear if they will be the first to
undergo the groundbreaking procedure.