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First womb transplants in India set to proceed under different approvals

15 May 2017

By Georgia Everett

Appeared in BioNews 900

A hospital in India is preparing this week to conduct the country’s first ever womb transplant.

A team comprised of 12 gynaecologists, endocrinologists and IVF specialists from the Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute (GCLI) in Pune will conduct the surgery on 18 May. Two additional womb transplants have also been scheduled for 19 May and another later in June.

The patient in question is a 26-year old woman with uterine scarring as a result of four abortions and two stillbirths. She will receive the donor womb from her mother.

While the GCLI has been granted a licence by the Directorate of Health Services in Maharashtra to perform womb transplantation surgeries for the next five years, another team from the Milann Fertility Centre in Bengaluru is set to perform two womb transplant surgeries in June also.

The Milann team says it has received approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which the GLCI team has not. The Milann group will be supervised by the Swedish team who performed the world's first womb transplants (see BioNews  674).  

Indian protocol dictates that if a procedure is experimental, it requires ICMR approval, but if it is not and is considered a standard patient treatment, it requires approval by the state authority.

Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, medical director of GCLI, told news outlet DNA India: '[Milann] probably did not get permission from the state authority, which is why they had to approach ICMR. They are getting a team from Sweden while we are doing it on [our] own since we are competent.'

However, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the director-general at ICMR countered: 'As this is an experimental procedure, it should be done under a research protocol. [GCLI] appear to be going ahead with it as a patient treatment with approval from local health authorities. ICMR does not have the mandate to interfere at this stage.'

The team from GCLI has spent time in Sweden, Germany and the USA observing the technique and practising the surgery on human cadavers. The specialists' additional experience may have given GCLI grounds to apply for state approval, as the Human Organ Transplant Act requires a minimum requirement in experience to carry out this procedure.

The patient will be monitored closely for approximately six months and, dependent on her recovery and health, she will undergo an IVF (in vitro fertilisation) procedure to conceive.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

10 October 2016 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Four women in the USA have become the first in the country to receive uteruses transplanted from living donors...
27 June 2016 - by Amina Yonis 
A Swedish woman who gave birth in 2014 following a womb transplant is pregnant with a second child...
12 October 2015 - by Nina Chohan 
Ethical approval has been given for clinical trials involving ten womb transplants in the UK to go ahead....
13 October 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
A boy has become the first baby to be born to a womb transplant recipient....

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