STOCKHOLM (AP) — Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives in an experimental procedure that has raised some ethical concerns. The women will soon try to become pregnant with their new wombs, the doctor in charge of the pioneering project has revealed.
The women were born without a uterus or had it removed because of cervical cancer. Most are in their 30s and are part of the first major experiment to test whether it's possible to transplant wombs into women so they can give birth to their own children.
In many European countries, including Sweden, using a surrogate to carry a pregnancy isn't allowed.
Life-saving transplants of organs such as hearts, livers and kidneys have been done for decades and doctors are increasingly transplanting hands, faces and other body parts to improve patients' quality of life. Womb transplants — the first ones intended to be temporary, just to allow childbearing — push that frontier even farther and raise some new concerns.
There have been two previous attempts to transplant a womb — in Turkey and Saudi Arabia — but both failed to produce babies. Scientists in Britain, Hungary and elsewhere are also planning similar operations but the efforts in Sweden are the most advanced.
In this April 4, 2012 photo made available by the University of Goteborg in Sweden, the Swedish research team practices before the operations to transplant wombs at the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden. Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives and will soon try to become pregnant, the doctor in charge of the pioneering project has revealed. “This is a new kind of surgery,” Dr. Mats Brannstrom told The Associated Press. Brannstrom is leading the initiative at the University of Goteborg and will run workshops for other doctors on how to perform womb transplants later this year. “We have no textbook to look at,” he said.
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The transplants have ignited hope among women unable to have children because they lost a uterus to cancer or were born without one. About one in girl in 4,500 is born with a syndrome, known as MRKH, where she doesn't have a womb.