Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Womb transplants in Sweden (where surrogacy is illegal)

The NY Times has the story: Swedish Doctors Transplant Wombs Into 9 Women

 "STOCKHOLM — Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives in an experimental procedure that has raised some ethical concerns. The women will soon try to become pregnant with their new wombs, the doctor in charge of the pioneering project has revealed.

"The women were born without a uterus or had it removed because of cervical cancer. Most are in their 30s and are part of the first major experiment to test whether it's possible to transplant wombs into women so they can give birth to their own children.

"In many European countries, including Sweden, using a surrogate to carry a pregnancy isn't allowed.
"Some experts have raised concerns about whether it's ethical to use live donors for an experimental procedure that doesn't save lives. But John Harris, a bioethics expert at the University of Manchester, didn't see a problem with that as long as donors are fully informed. He said donating kidneys isn't necessarily life-saving, yet is widely promoted.

"Dialysis is available, but we have come to accept and to even encourage people to take risks to donate a kidney," he said.

"Brannstrom said the nine womb recipients are doing well. Many already had their periods six weeks after the transplants, an early sign that the wombs are healthy and functioning.
"None of the women who donated or received wombs has been identified. The transplants began in September 2012 and the donors include mothers and other relatives of the recipients.
"The transplant operations did not connect the women's uteruses to their fallopian tubes, so they are unable to get pregnant naturally. But all who received a womb have their own ovaries and can make eggs. Before the operation, they had some removed to create embryos through in-vitro fertilization. The embryos were then frozen and doctors plan to transfer them into the new wombs, allowing the women to carry their own biological children.
""If this had been possible when I was younger, no doubt I would have been interested," she said. Gimre, who has two foster children, said the only option for women like her to have biological children is via surrogacy, which is illegal in many European countries, including Norway and Sweden.
"The technique used in Sweden, using live donors, is somewhat controversial. In Britain, doctors are also planning to perform uterus transplants, but will only use wombs from dying or dead people. That was also the case in Turkey. Last year, Turkish doctors announced their patient got pregnant but the pregnancy failed after two months.

"Mats has done something amazing and we understand completely why he has taken this route, but we are wary of that approach," said Dr. Richard Smith, head of the U.K. charity Womb Transplant UK, which is trying to raise 500,000 pounds ($823,000) to carry out five operations in Britain.

"He said removing a womb for donation is like a radical hysterectomy but it requires taking a bigger chunk of the surrounding blood vessels to ensure adequate blood flow, raising the risk of complications for the donor. Smith said British officials don't consider it ethical to let donors take such chances for an operation that isn't considered life-saving.
"Doctors in Saudi Arabia performed the first womb transplant in 2000, using a live donor, but it had to be removed after three months because of a blood clot."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing that some people/societies find it more ethical to transplant an internal organ from one live person to another rather than allow a fully consenting woman to carry for another person. What a waste.