Image: NPR

Image: NPR

Over the past decade, the world has gotten even more familiar with organ transplant. Medical science has used it to save countless lives that ordinarily would have died from organ failure.

The most popular transplant is kidney transplant; but uterus transplant is not yet so popular. It took the world by surprise in October 2014, when it was announced that, for the first time, a healthy baby had been born to a uterine transplant recipient, at an undisclosed location in Sweden.

The lucky mother is a Swedish woman, aged 36, who had received a uterus in 2013, from a live 61-year-old donor. The woman eventually gave birth to a baby boy in September, weighing 1.8 kg (3.9 lb).

Following this development, in September 2016, four American women received wombs from living donors. Three of the organs have been removed due to complications; but one woman still has her new womb, and hasn’t shown any signs of rejection.

Experts have promised to keep working to perfect this procedure in order to bring smiles to many women in the world who wish to have their own babies despite their womb defects.

Two years since the announcement about the Swedish woman was made, very few people know about uterus transplant. Below are some important facts everyone needs to know about the procedure:

Who can benefit from a womb transplant?

The procedure is meant to benefit the 3 per cent to 5 per cent of women who have uterine factor infertility. These women may have suffered irreversible uterine damage or had their uterus removed or born without the organ. This condition  affects about one in 4,500 new-born girls.

Why are uterus transplants difficult?

Experts have said that it is exceptionally hard to perform a uterine transplantation due to the abundance of blood vessels that bring blood from the pelvic region into the uterus.

What are the risks involved?

The major concern in uterus transplant is rejection, which occurs when the recipient’s immune system attacks the foreign tissue that’s implanted. And like any organ transplant surgery, there is potential for bleeding and infection. The woman who received the very first uterus transplant in the U.S. (from a deceased donor), last February at the Cleveland Clinic, had to have the organ removed less than two weeks later due to a common infection.

Can a recipient keep the uterus?

The transplant is not meant to be lifelong. Recipients are advised to undergo a hysterectomy to remove the donated uterus after having one to two children, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Can age factor affect the donor?

The answer is No! The age of the uterus, if it’s not diseased, is not very relevant. It is reported that experts have been astonished by the fact that wombs transplanted from post-menopausal women are able to grow healthy babies.

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Author: Dotun Obatuyi

My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.