Doctors in New York Planning First-Ever Womb Transplant, Some Object

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 15, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Doctors in New York Planning First-Ever Womb Transplant, Some Object Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 15
, 2007

New York, NY ( — A team of doctors in Manhattan is planning the first-ever womb transplant that would potentially give women stricken by cancer, diseases or other problems the ability to have children. However, some leading transplant surgeons and others are concerned about the potential risks of a pregnancy with a transplanted uterus.

"The desire to have a child is a tremendous driving force for many women," Giuseppe Del Priore of the New York Downtown Hospital told the Washington Post in an interview. "We think we could help many women fulfill this very basic desire."

But other doctors are concerned about potential problems for both mother and child in such a pregnancy and say more research should first be done on animals.

"This raises a set of very difficult medical and ethical questions," Thomas Murray of the Hastings Center told the Post. "I think it’s very questionable. This would be very hard to justify."

Some experts say women who can’t have children can use adoption or surrogates to bring a child into the world and don’t need to undergo a risky surgery. They’re also worried unborn children will have problems developing properly in the womb.

"I don’t think it’s really a doctor’s role to tell a patient that their values are not important. It’s up to us as doctors to advise our patients and safely escort them to the best life that they can have," Del Priore responded.

Doctors first practiced womb transplants on baboon and goats and physicians in Saudi Arabia in 2002 claimed to be the first to accomplish the surgery in humans. Blood clots eventually forced the doctors to remove the womb 99 days later, but they said the surgery itself was a success.

"I think we’re ready," Del Priore told the Post. "There is always more you could do. But knowing what my colleagues in the field have done and what we have done, we think it’s absolutely doable."

Assuming a surgery would go well and a pregnancy begins, doctors said they would likely use a Caesarian section to birth the unborn child to minimize the risks.