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Turkish womb transplant patient miscarries

20 May 2013
Appeared in BioNews 705

Doctors have terminated the pregnancy of 22-year-old Derya Sert, the first woman to receive a womb transplant from a deceased donor.

The pregnancy was terminated after an examination at eight weeks gestation showed no embryo heartbeat. A statement released from Akdeniz University Hospital, Antalya, Turkey, read: 'The general health status of the patient is fine. IVF will be continued when she is ready'.

Like one in every 5,000 women, Ms Sert was born without a uterus. However, in August 2011 she underwent pioneering womb transplant surgery performed by Professor Ömer Özkan at Akdeniz University Hospital. Following the procedure doctors waited 18 months to make sure the organ was still functioning before Ms Sert underwent IVF treatment using her own eggs. Her pregnancy was announced in April (reported in BioNews 700).

Although Ms Sert was the first woman to receive a womb transplant from a deceased donor, she was not the first woman to undergo womb transplantation. In 2000 a woman in Saudi Arabia received a womb from a live donor, but a clot developed due to poor blood flow and the transplant was removed after three months.

There is still no consensus among doctors as to whether living or deceased donors should be used for womb transplantation. Some experts have expressed apprehension at removing the womb from a living woman for a procedure which is not lifesaving. However, an organ from a living donor can be a better match. Indeed, in BioNews 674 it was reported that two Swedish women successfully received uterus transplants from their mothers.

The field of womb transplantation is not without its critics. Numerous ethical and safety concerns have been raised by experts. These include the risk of the new womb being rejected and the risk that anti-rejection drugs will cause harmful side effects during pregnancy. Fertility expert Professor Lord Robert Winston has previously suggested that a pregnancy could result in potentially fatal complications.

However, Dr Özkan has previously answered critics by saying, 'Many people think that womb transplants aren't necessary because they're not lifesaving operations and that women have the option of adoption or surrogacy. But we've had applications from women all over the world wanting womb transplants. This is absolutely necessary for these women: you just have to ask them to realise this'.

Turkish womb transplant patient loses baby
Reuters |  14 May 2013
Woman who fell pregnant after undergoing world's first successful womb transplant has lost her IVF baby
Mail Online |  15 May 2013
10 March 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
Four women who had womb transplants have had embryos transferred in an attempt to become pregnant...
10 March 2014 - by Dr Kevin Grimes 
Ethics is about communication, and this is true when looking back on our ethical discussion of womb transplantation...
3 February 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
A womb transplant recipient is set to become pregnant after doctors successfully transferred an embryo into the transplanted uterus. If the embryo embeds and the pregnancy is successful, the baby will become the first child born following a womb transplant....
20 January 2014 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
Nine women have received transplants of uteruses donated by their mothers or other living relatives in an ongoing trial of an experimental procedure at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden...
15 April 2013 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
One of the first women to receive a womb transplant is pregnant, the treating hospital has disclosed. A spokesperson said that early test results were 'consistent' with signs of pregnancy....
24 September 2012 - by Ruth Retassie 
Two women in Sweden received uterus transplants from their mothers, with hopes it will allow them to conceive children of their own...
16 July 2012 - by Dr Victoria Burchell 
A charity has been launched to raise money for research that could allow the first womb transplants in the UK...
1 August 2011 - by Dr Morven Shearer 
Last month news broke of an experimental womb transplantation surgery planned for early next year. With it came the possibility of women with an absent or non-functioning uterus carrying a child to term (see Roberts, 2011)....
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