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Embryo transfer for four women after womb transplants

10 March 2014
Appeared in BioNews 745

Four women who had womb transplants have had embryos transferred in an attempt to become pregnant.

If any of the embryos implant, this could lead to the first live birth following a womb transplant. The recipients have functioning ovaries, so their own egg cells were used in IVF before being transferred into the wombs that were donated by living relatives.

'We have already begun transferring embryos into four of the women and plan to make attempts with the others when they are ready', said Professor Mats Brännström at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who is leading the trial. 'One or two more will perhaps get pregnant and miscarry, and one or two won't be able to get pregnant', he told Associated Press.

The first of these embryo transfers was reported last month (in BioNews 740); however, Professor Brännström has not yet confirmed whether it led to pregnancy.

Professor Brännström's team has performed uterus transplants on nine women as part of this trial, which began in 2012. Two women have since had to have their transplanted wombs removed: one due to an untreatable infection, and other due to blood clots in the transplanted blood vessels.

'The women who had to have their transplanted wombs removed were of course very disappointed, but both of them have recovered well', said Professor Brännström.

Four of the women also had 'mild cases of transplant rejection', but according to Brännström, 'after six months, the immunosuppression could be reduced to relatively low levels'.

Dr Yacoub Khalaf from Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals commented on the trial, telling Associated Press: 'We really don't know if the blood flow to the uterus will increase and adapt in the same way as in a regular pregnancy. A live birth will be the best validation that this works'.

Professor Charles Kingsland from Liverpool Women's Hospital also commented: 'There are questions about how the physiological changes in the uterus will affect the mother and whether the transplanted uterus will be conducive to a growing baby'.

16 November 2015 - by Dr Natasha Hammond-Browning 
The recent news that the Health Research Authority has given approval to a UK charity to conduct a clinical trial for womb transplants is seen as welcome news for women without wombs. But when compared to the extensive surgeries required for a womb transplant, is surrogacy not the safer option?...
12 October 2015 - by Nina Chohan 
Ethical approval has been given for clinical trials involving ten womb transplants in the UK to go ahead....
21 September 2015 - by Dr Nicola Williams 
There are currently good arguments for allowing living donors to be used in uterus transplants, but as research continues there may come a time when only deceased donors will be justifiable...
13 October 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
A boy has become the first baby to be born to a womb transplant recipient....
13 October 2014 - by Dr Amel Alghrani 
Following the first baby born after a womb transplant, the time has come to debate uterus transplantation. How will it be regulated in the UK and what social, legal and ethical issues does it raise?
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...
20 May 2013 - by Dr Anna Cauldwell 
Doctors have terminated the pregnancy of 22-year-old Derya Sert, the first woman to receive a womb transplant from a deceased donor....
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....
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