Finally possible: uterine transplantation could help thousands of women
For many couples, nothing is more important than finally having their own child together. However, some women are denied the fulfillment of this wish because they were born without a womb. However, transplants are now possible.
When the desire to have children remains unfulfilled
Couples are often advised to use the strangest methods when they want to have children. Some people think that it helps to stretch your legs in the air after sex. However, Dutch scientists confessed that this does not increase the chances of having a child. Some women find it difficult or impossible to get pregnant anyway. For example, those who have no or too little uterus from birth due to a genetic change. However, a transplant could help them.
First uterine transplant in Germany
Doctors at the University Hospital in Tübingen recently carried out the first uterine transplant in Germany with the support of Swedish experts. The 23-year-old patient with absolute uterine infertility due to a Mayer-Rokitanski-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome received the transplant as a living donation and the operation, which lasted several hours, went without complications, according to a report from the hospital.
Woman with donor uterus gave birth to baby
Gynecologist Mats Brännström has shown with transplants in Sweden that such operations are possible and can lead to women fulfilling their desire to have children. In Gothenburg, a woman with a donor uterus had a healthy baby in 2014. In the meantime, five children have been born in this way.
Experts estimate the number of successful transplants to be around 20 worldwide, but the number of failures is likely to be significantly higher.
According to the clinic, the plans for the intervention in Tübingen have been going for years. A uterine transplant is also to be carried out in other German hospitals, including by doctors from the University Clinic in Erlangen.
Which women can be helped
In a message from the dpa news agency, Sara Brucker, Medical Director of the Research Institute for Women's Health at the University of Tübingen, explained that women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome (MRKHS) are the largest group of potential patients.
The affected girls were therefore absent from the vagina and uterus from birth. On the other hand, ovaries, breasts, clitoris and labia are normal. "The only options for these women to become mothers or even to have children of their own genetics were adoption or surrogacy, which in turn is not permitted in Germany," writes the University Hospital Tübingen in the press release.
Up to 10,000 women could be helped
Bruckner also explained how many women are affected. According to this, about one in 5,000 female babies will be born with MRKHS. In Germany alone there are currently 6,000 to 8,000 people affected.
In addition, there are women who want to have children, who are already mothers, but whose womb was removed during childbirth. And also patients from whom the organ was removed for cervical cancer. According to the dpa, other experts estimate the total number of potential patients for a uterine transplant to be up to 10,000 women.
Transplantation of organs from living relatives most promising
According to experts, the transplantation of organs from living relatives - such as the mother's or sister's uterus - is the most promising. In such cases, the interventions are also easier to plan than with organ donations from brain-dead victims.
Organs of older people are also suitable for a transplant. The British trade magazine "The Lancet" reported that the uterus in which the baby grew up in Sweden came from a family friend of 61 who had gone through menopause seven years before the operation.
As Brucker explained, a uterus - unlike the ovaries - can be rejuvenated again. A prerequisite for suitability was that the donor was pregnant at least once. (ad)