World's First Ever Mother-to-Daughter Uterus Transplants in Sweden

Category: Health / Sep 18, 2012 5:31PM EDT

Doctors in Sweden have performed the world's first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants, a medical team said on Tuesday (September 18).

The University of Gothenburg said two Swedish women, both in their 30s, received wombs from their mothers in a hospital in western Sweden over the weekend. The identity of the women was not disclosed.

Team leader Mats Brannstrom, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Gothenburg said more than ten surgeons, who had trained together on the procedure for several years, took part in the complicated surgery.

Brannstrom said the women were doing well following the surgery.

They are doing well. All four women are doing well. We believe that the two donors - the mothers - will go home on Thursday and they are up and about. The women who received the uterus will be here a bit longer because they need to get the anti-rejection medication and we have to carefully monitor not only that the women are feeling good but also the uterus, he said.

He said the most difficult part of the surgery had been removing the uterus with the surrounding vessels.

The most difficult was the surgery to free the vessels. To remove the uterus is a fairly simple procedure and is done on 10,000 Swedish women each year, but if you have to remove the uterus together with vessels that are this long (shows with hand) then it's a difficult operation. Since the uterus is in the pelvis it's like operating in a funnel, Brannstrom said.

The university said it estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 women of child-bearing age in Sweden alone were unable to bear children due the lack of a uterus.

The medical team said the quality of the uterus was controlled by the ovaries and the hormones feeding into it, and in theory a transplanted, post-menopausal uterus could carry a baby.

Brannstrom said the first baby could be expected no sooner than 2014Questions of ethics have been raised with some saying that a uterus transplant was not vital and money could be better spent on life saving transplants.

But Brannstrom said many transplants nowadays could also be life-enhancing rather than just life-saving.