Tuesday, November 21, 2006

N.Y. Doctor Will Perform First Womb Transplant on a Human

The world's first successful womb transplant will take place next year, Dr. Giuseppe Del Priore of New York Downtown Hospital said. Dr. Del Priore has been given the go-ahead to carry out the operation and claims to have found a number of potential donors.

Dr. Del Priore said yesterday that while the would-be recipient would have to go through months of counseling and tests, if the right patient was identified, he expected to be able to carry out the procedure next year.

If the operation can be perfected for humans, it could help thousands of women with Rokitansky syndrome, a rare congenital condition that affects one in 5,000 women and in which the uterus develops abnormally but the ovaries still function.

Around 200 British women every year who attempt to have their own biological children using surrogate mothers would be given the chance to give birth naturally.

Last month, Dr. Del Priore's team performed a womb transplant in a rhesus monkey. Because the wrong dose of anti-clotting drugs was used, the animal was put down after 20 hours.

However, Dr. Del Priore said the operation was a success because blood flow was successfully established in the recipient.

He said yesterday that he did not believe it was necessary to achieve a pregnancy in a non-human primate that had had a womb transplant before moving on to a human patient.

However, Dr. Mats Brannstrom of Gothenburg University in Sweden, who has been working on womb transplants in sheep, told New Scientist magazine: "We have to do a lot more animal studies before we go on to humans."

The only previous attempted human womb transplant was announced in 2002 by a team in Saudi Arabia where surrogacy is illegal.

They claimed to have transplanted the womb of a 46-year-old postmenopausal woman who had to have a hysterectomy to a 26-year-old woman who had lost her uterus because of excessive bleeding after childbirth.

The recipient was said to have had two menstrual periods, but a clot developed in a blood vessel supplying the uterus, and the organ had to be removed.

Scientists have previously carried out successful womb transplants in mice, sheep, and dogs.

Dr. Del Priore said: "It is cautionary approval, but it is approval. If the right patient shows up," the hospital's "independent review board has stated we could go-ahead.

"Technically, we are capable of doing it. If we had everything in order, we could do it tomorrow."

Any would-be patient would have to go through a series of obstacles including seeing a psychologist, reconsidering adoption and surrogacy, seeing a specialist to confirm they are otherwise fertile, try IVF, as well as seeing a pregnancy-risk specialist and transplant support team.

source: NYSun