A team of doctors have successfully completed Lebanon's first ever uterus transplant.
The Lebanese medics, who worked alongside a Swedish team, performed the procedure at the Bellevue Medical Centre in Mansourieh. The successful surgery has made Lebanon the tenth country to perform the complex procedure.
The patient was a 26-year-old Jordanian woman who received the donated uterus from her 50-year-old mother after a diagnosis of uterine factor infertility, in which an abnormality in the uterus or complete lack of a uterus contributes to infertility.
The experts from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who collaborated on the operation had been assisting the team in Mansourieh since 2016, to research the feasibility of performing the procedure. The first successful uterus transplant was performed in Sweden in 2014 and since then eight children have been born from transplanted uteruses.
Dr Amel Alghrani, an expert on uterus transplants at the University of Liverpool, emphasised how the procedure could be revolutionary for Muslim women with infertility. Surrogacy is forbidden in many Islamic countries and it is estimated 100,000 women across the Middle East and Turkey have uterine factor infertility.
'In Islam, surrogacy is widely regarded as haram [forbidden], and there have been fatwas issued to this effect,' Dr Alghrani told the Jerusalem Post. 'For women in the Middle East and especially in Muslim countries, uterus transplantation potentially represents an alternative way women unable to gestate can still achieve genetic motherhood and reproduce.'
The uterus recipient is currently waiting a year, to rule out organ rejection, before she undergoes IVF in an attempt to conceive. Any pregnancy will have to be delivered via caesarean section to reduce stress on the donated organ.
This was not the first attempted uterus transplant in the Middle East. However, the Lebanese team are hoping their procedure will be the first in the region to result in a live birth. Both Saudi Arabia, in 2000, and Turkey, in 2011, attempted the procedure, with neither resulting in a uterus with the potential to bear a child.