Women could have womb transplants as early as next year.
Womb transplants that would allow childless women to have babies could be available as early as next year, a leading researcher said last night.
Following successful animal experiments, doctors are ready to implant women with healthy wombs from donors.
The forecast will bring hope to the thousands of women of childbearing age who are born without a womb or have had it removed because of disease.
But critics warned that the breakthrough erodes the sanctity of life and questioned its safety.
The prediction comes from one of the world’s leading pioneers in female organ transplants, Professor Mats Brannstrom of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who has spent more than a decade perfecting the complex surgical techniques needed for a womb transplant.
His team have succeeded in implanting donated wombs in mice, rats, sheep and pigs and are now hoping to achieve the same success in women.
A British team, from Hammersmith Hospital in London, have also been developing womb transplants and have carried out successful experiments on rabbits. The only human womb transplant so far took place in Saudi Arabia in 2000, but the donated organ failed after four months.
THE DONOR DILEMMA…
- The wombs used in the transplants could come from either living or dead donors.
- Doctors say a living close relative such as a sister, after she has completed her own family, or a mother would be a good tissue match.
- But others believe the only way to obtain a womb with the blood vessels needed to take the strain of pregnancy would be to take it from a dead donor.
- After the transplant, a woman would be likely to need IVF to become pregnant and a caesarean section to deliver the baby because the new tissue would not stand up to a natural birth.
- She would also have to take immunosuppressant drugs to prevent rejection.
But in the latest issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, Professor Brannstrom said: ‘During the last decade, there has been considerable progress in surgical techniques.’
The professor told the Daily Mail that he expects womb transplants to be carried out as early as next year, at one of ten hospitals around the world.
The transplant would only be temporary.
The long-term dangers of the drugs needed to prevent rejection would mean that the new womb would have to be removed after one or two pregnancies.
Susan Seenan, of the patient support group Infertility Network UK, said: ‘Women unable to conceive and carry their own baby face real heartache, and womb transplants may be one way of helping them.
‘However a great deal of thought and discussion on all the issues would be required.’
Josephine Quintavalle, of campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: ‘I think it is going to be really hard to prove that this is safe, and the experiment is not so much on the woman having the transplant but on the baby she is carrying.
‘We have to understand how difficult it is for some people who cannot have children but we can’t start this mentality of there always being an answer.’
Via Daily Mail