Following the success of a procedure in Sweden, doctors in the U.K. have received the green light to begin the complex procedure of womb transplants, allowing countless women a second chance at fertility.
It hasn’t been an easy road to finally realizing a successful womb transplant, according to Dr. Smith. He says that the one thing that kept the research on the procedure moving forward was the desperation of women born without uteruses or who had to have them removed due to illness. Determined to help people realize their dreams of starting their own families, he and his team of dedicated researchers pushed forward.
According to Dr. Smith’s research team at Womb Transplant UK, each transplant procedure would cost around 50,000 British pounds, or about $76,000. Women will not be required to pay for their own procedures, however; the treatment will be funded by public donations and the researchers themselves. So far, the team has secured enough funding to perform the procedure on two individuals.
Sophie Lewis, 30, is one of the women that has entered the running for receiving the procedure. She was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome at age 16, which prevented her uterus from developing. Doctors told Sophie that she would never be able to give birth.
Sophie and her partner, Tilden Lamb, hope that the womb transplant procedure will allow them finally realize their lifelong dream of carrying their own child. Sophie was one of the few women who met the researchers’ criteria for eligibility for a womb transplant, which was surprisingly strict.
The women selected for final consideration in the study had to be under the age of 38, have a long-term monogamous partner, and maintain a healthy level of weight. Of the 300 women who inquired about participating in the study, only 104 met the criteria.
Scientists want to transplant wombs from patients who had died in the head but whose heart remained beating. The decision to not use wombs from live donors, as doctors did in the recent successful trial in Sweden, could create additional complications, as an organ donor card would be the only consent a person in a vegetative state would be able to give.
Despite the complications involved with the procedure, the British Fertility Society was excited about any developments in the case. According to the BFS’s chairman, Professor Adam Balen, the breakthrough makes it possible for women with womb issues to follow through with their own pregnancy instead of relying on in vitro fertilization or surrogate mothers. The approval of the procedure follows many years of work, and researchers and prospective mothers alike are excited about the possibilities it represents.