A Swedish woman has welcomed the world's first womb transplant baby, Vincent, giving hope to thousands of across the world who face uterine infertility.
The 36 year old mother was born without a womb, but was able to become pregnant after receiving a donated uterus from a post-menopausal family friend in her 60’s.
The Lancet reports that Vincent was born prematurely at 31 weeks, weighing 3.9lb, in September. He is said to be healthy, and both he and his mother are doing well and recovering at home.
The family's identity has not been revealed, but it has been reported that the mother had functioning ovaries. Prior to the transplant, the couple underwent IVF and froze 11 embryos. One year after the transplant operation, the first embryo was implanted. Three weeks later, a pregnancy test revealed that it had been a success.
At 31 weeks pregnant, the mother developed pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition, and the baby showed signs of distress. The baby was born via caesarean section weighing 3.9 lbs, which is a normal birth weight for that stage of pregnancy. After a 10 day stay in hospital, Vincent was allowed to go home, and is now said to be doing very well.
Why Would A Woman Require A Womb Transplant?
Birth defects and cancer treatments leave some women without a womb. Until now, if these women wanted to have biological children, surrogacy has been their only option. Womb transplants, though still a very new discovery, opens up options for these women to carry their own babies.
What Is The Future For Womb Transplantation?
The womb transplant operation was the result of hard work by a team of doctors who spent 16 years researching, practising and perfecting the procedure. And while the transplant was a huge success, there is still further research to be done.
Nine couples participated in this study, but Vincent was the first baby to be born. Two of the other participants suffered complications which required the donated wombs had to be removed. Of the remaining women, there are two pregnancies currently past the 25 week mark. More will be known about the safety and effectiveness of the procedure once the study is completed.
To prevent the mother's body rejecting the womb, the mother must take drugs which could be harmful if used long-term. This means that, assuming the womb heals properly after the caesarean section, the couple will need to decide whether they want to try for another child, and if not the womb will need to be removed. Doctors are advising that the women wait no longer than six months before the birth of their first child, and the conception of the second. A maximum of two births per donated uterus is currently considered to be the maximum for this type of procedure.
Professor Mats Brännström, the Swedish doctor involved with the transplant, has now set his sights on growing a uterus from scratch.
Will Womb Transplants Be Available In Australia?
It is believed the womb transplant procedure will be available in Australia in less than two years. Dr Ash Hanafy was part of the team of doctors who performed the womb transplant, and he hopes to offer it to women in Australia very soon. However, he expects to have a great deal of interest, with around 500 women already registered in his database. Doctors are also studying this procedure in the US, UK, Japan and China.