Woman Born From the Same Womb as Her Son Describes Womb Transplant With Her Mother’s Womb

Bioethics   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 7, 2016   |   5:46PM   |   Stockholm, Sweden

One of the first women in the world to successfully receive a womb transplant and give birth shared her story with the Associated Press this week.

Emelie Eriksson, of Bergshamra, Sweden, received a uterus transplant from her mother and later gave birth to her son Albin with the very same womb that bore her.

“It’s like science fiction,” Eriksson, told the Associated Press. “This is something that you read in history books and now in the future when you read about this, it’s about me.”

Eriksson was born without a womb and therefore unable to bear children. Several years ago, she said she learned that a Swedish doctor, Mats Brannstrom, was doing research on womb transplants.

Here’s more from the report:

She described the novel project to her mother one Sunday evening in Stockholm.

“I thought this was something that could only happen (far) in the future,” said Marie Eriksson, 53. “But then I said to Emelie, ‘I’m so old, I don’t need my womb and I don’t want any more children,” she said. “This is your only chance to have a child and you should take it.”

Eriksson emailed Brannstrom and after several trips to Gothenburg and dozens of medical tests for both Ericksson and her mother, they were accepted into his trial testing the pioneering transplant.

“I’d known all my life that I wouldn’t be able to be pregnant,” Eriksson said. “But maybe now there was a small, small chance for me.”

The transplant was successful, though Emelie experienced “two mild rejection episodes,” according to the report. A year later, she became pregnant with her son through in vitro fertilization.

When Albin was born almost two years ago, the excitement of his birth overwhelmed his parents. Emilie said her husband, Daniel, actually fainted in the hospital room. As for herself, the new mom said she felt so relieved when she heard Albin’s cry in the delivery room.

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“I realized that everything had worked,” she said.

After several successful cases in Sweden, doctors in the U.S. and other countries also are beginning to perform uterus transplants. In March, however, Ohio doctors at the Cleveland Clinic said their first attempt at a uterus transplant had failed.

Although many believe womb transplants are a wonderful possibility for women who otherwise could not bear children, some people do have concerns about the new technology.

Bioethics attorney Wesley J. Smith, J.D. said his concern is that uterus transplants are wholly elective medical procedures that pose risks to the woman’s life and possibly her unborn child’s.

In 2014, Smith wrote:

Kidney, liver, heart, etc. transplantations are serious and very expensive, non-elective surgeries.  They are performed to save lives or restore essential functions. They also require expensive post-surgery drugs to suppress immune response–which also can carry some risks, deemed acceptable because of the urgent nature of the patients’ illnesses.

In contrast, transplanting a uterus is wholly elective, obviously performed to allow a woman to gestate and give birth. In other words, she has a bodily dysfunction, but is not sick. Indeed, her physical health is put at peril from the procedure, whereas doing nothing will not endanger her life or hurt her health. And given that the child is delivered early, there could be some risk to the baby.

Justina Miller, a Catholic writer in southern California, expressed similar concerns.

“As Christians, even as humans, we are drawn to love life. While it is our responsibility to show compassion to parents struggling with fertility, we must also encourage parents to pursue conception in a way that respects the human dignity and rights of all parties involved.”

She added, “Donum Vitae tells us that, ‘a true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child’s dignity and nature. The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, ‘the supreme gift’ and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents.’”