Woman Makes Medical History as First to Give Birth After Womb Transplant

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Oct 6, 2014   |   5:10PM   |   Washington, DC

In September, a Swedish woman made medical history when she gave birth to her first child through birth by womb transplant.

The 36-year-old mother, who chose not to disclose her identity, found out that she didn’t have a womb when she was 15-years old; however, she did have functioning ovaries. Nearly a decade later she discovered that Dr. Mats Brannstrom, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Gothenburg and Stockholm, was conducting womb transplant research.

wombtransplant2The woman decided she wanted a womb transplant and a friend donated hers after completing menopause several years earlier. Although her baby boy was born at 32 weeks, he was healthy and discharged from the hospital 10 days after his birth. The parents named him Vincent, which means ‘to conquer.’

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Surgeons said it had taken over ten years of surgical training and research on animals for the procedure to be viable. One of the gynecological surgeons on the team, Liza Johannesson, said that the revolutionary procedure would “give hope to those women and men who thought they would never have a child, that thought they were out of hope.” The results of the research will be detailed soon in the Lancet medical journal.

The surgical team is reportedly working on the procedure with eight other couples, and Dr. Brannstrom confirmed that two of those pregnancies are at least 25 weeks along. Depending on whether or not further results are successful, it will be determined whether or not the procedure is completely safe and effective. It could potentially provide viable options to women who previously couldn’t conceive.

Two other medical teams had tried womb transplants, in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, several years back. One ended in a miscarriage, and the other had to be removed, due to a disease, after three months.

wombtransplantNow, around 60 couples are hoping that they will be able to receive a transplant and have children of their own. Sophie Lewis, another woman born without a womb cried with joy after hearing about the medical breakthrough. Lewis hopes to become one of the five women in Britain chosen to receive a womb transplant. Lewis said, “To feel your own child growing inside you would be a miracle. It would be an absolute gift, the most amazing gift ever.”

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Lewis was born without a womb because of a rare genetic condition called Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome, which affects about one in 5,000 women.

She concluded, “It was really, really exciting to find out that a womb transplant was finally a possibility. We have all been waiting on the Swedish programme. We have not known what to expect. When I was 16, it was adoption or surrogacy and that was it. And now, 15 years down the line, there’s the possibility that I will have a womb transplant myself, which is really incredible.”