About one in 500 women either have no uterus or problems so severe with it that it canâ€™t carry a child. Until recently, these conditions had no medical treatment.
In Fertility and Sterility,Â Mats BrÃ¤nnstrÃ¶m and a team of surgeons atÂ the University of Gothenburg in SwedenÂ report uterus transplantation in nine women, eight of whom who were born without a uterus, and one who had it removed for cancer. Two of the women had complications that required surgical removal of the transplanted organs, but seven women made it to six months with their transplants.
The ultimate test of these transplanted uteri remains: whether they can carry babies. If they can, this would be a great advance for the millions of women afflicted worldwide by problems with their uteri so severe that pregnancy is impossible.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr.Â BrÃ¤nnstrÃ¶m last month at a conference in Brisbane, Australia. These surgeries are not easy, requiring up to six hours to remove the uterus from the donor and up to 13 hours to transplant it into the recipient. Itâ€™s a rare kind of surgeon that puts such great effort into coordinating complex care and developing new techniques in a careful and methodical way. Thanks to his efforts, we may be closer to a time when a woman without a womb isnâ€™t hopeless if she wants to carry her child.