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10 women to trial innovative womb transplant

Monday 5th October 2015
Ten women in the UK have been selected to trial the first womb transplants. Image Credit: Tempura
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Doctors will start work on the first ever womb transplants in the UK after the procedure was given the go ahead by the Health Research Authority.

Following success in Sweden, ten women have been granted access to a UK-based initiative that will begin next year. If the operations, which take around six hours to complete, go well, the first baby could be born in 2018.

As part of a wider clinical trial, the initiative hopes to help the one in 7,000 women who are born without a womb.

The operation involves using a womb given by someone who has died but has had their heart kept beating. As with many transplants, any recipients would need to take immunosuppressant drugs after the procedure and throughout any pregnancy to stop their body from rejecting the womb.

Each of the ten women involved in the clinical trial will be closely monitored for a year after the procedure. If there are no problems, they will then have an embryo, which will use the woman's own eggs and her partner's sperm, implanted into their womb through IVF.

Couples will have the option of trying for two pregnancies before the womb is removed and any babies will then be delivered eight months later by caesarean section.

The procedure enables surgeons to remove the womb once it has served its purpose, meaning they will no longer need to take immunosuppressants.

The research will be led by the Imperial College Healthcare trust, but a further £500,000 is needed to be able to complete the transplants. There are also concerns about how the NHS could afford to fund the procedure, which costs £40,000, after the research.

Dr Richard Smith, a consultant gynaecologist at the Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London, who has been involved in the project for nearly two decades, will lead the transplant team.

He said: "Infertility is a difficult thing to treat for these women. Surrogacy is an option, but it does not answer the deep desire that women have to carry their own baby.

"For a woman to carry her own baby - that has to be a wonderful thing."ADNFCR-1780-ID-801802203-ADNFCR

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