The first womb transplant has been performed in the UK after more than twenty-five years of research and planning. This is a groundbreaking treatment which will give the life-changing opportunity to women born without a functioning womb to potentially get pregnant and carry a child of their own. The recipient of the donor womb, and the donor – who is also the recipient’s sister would like to remain anonymous. Both of them are thankfully recovering well. The ground-breaking womb transplant procedure is the culmination of 25 years of research and a collaboration between the Lister Fertility Clinic, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Womb Transplant UK.
A detailed case report was published by the BJOG, an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology. It details that the transplant was undertaken as part of the UK living donor programme, which is sponsored and funded by the charity Womb Transplant UK, following approval from the Human Tissue Authority.
The full removal and transplant process together took almost eighteen hours and staff at the Oxford Transplant Centre volunteered and took part in the surgery in their spare time. If the recovery process continues to go well, the recipient will undergo embryo transfer later this year at the Lister Fertility Clinic in London. Once pregnancy is confirmed the recipient will be closely monitored in a specialist antenatal clinic at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, where the delivery would also take place. This groundbreaking news for our partners and friends at the trailblazing Lister Clinic.
When asked about their role in the procedure the Lister had this to say:
“We are incredibly proud to be part of the UK’s first ever womb transplant. All being well, the Lister Fertility Clinic will be supporting the recipient patient, whose sister donated her womb, with an embryo transfer later this year – so that they can start their journey towards parenthood. One in five thousand women in the UK are born without a functioning womb and are unable to conceive and carry their own child. Many other women have sadly had to have their womb removed following cancer or other illnesses and conditions, including fibroids. While this is the first transplant of its kind in the UK, approximately 100 transplants have been performed globally, with around 50 babies born so far.”
The Lister Fertility Clinic is widely recognised as one of the leading private fertility clinics in the UK. Since opening in 1988, Lister has maintained a reputation for being one of the most successful IVF treatment clinics in the country, with over 21,000 Lister babies being born.
The first ever live birth from a uterus transplant took place in Sweden, in 2014. Fast forward less than a decade, and uterus transplants seem set to become a mainstream procedure in the near future, with an estimated ninety uterus transplants carried out around the world as of the end of 2021, resulting in the birth of around 50 children. We are very excited that this procedure has now taken place in the UK and we are curious and hopeful for what the future holds when it comes to womb transplants, particularly with thought to the transgender community and what womb transplants may mean for trans-women who would like to carry a pregnancy.
Mats Brännström is a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and chief physician at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. He is also the doctor who helped deliver that first-ever baby born as a result of a uterine transplant.
Now, he frequently gets emails from people assigned male at birth asking about the procedure. He emphasises that more research would need to be done for those who identify as female but were assigned male at birth to undergo this type of procedure.
In cases where womb transplantation is not suitable and surrogacy is required, The Lister Clinic say they are “also proud to work in collaboration with our network of partners – including TwoDadsUK and My Surrogacy Journey – to ensure that we continue to develop our innovative approach to patient experience and care.”