First successful womb transplant recipient passes six-week pregnancy mark

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The first woman to receive a successful uterus transplant from a deceased donor is this week officially six weeks into a normal, healthy pregnancy, Turkey's Akdeniz University Hospital stated on Monday.

The statement reported a fetal heartbeat from Derya Sert, the 22-year-old Turkish woman, who was born without a uterus.

Ms Sert's womb transplant came after a first attempt at the same procedure in 2000 on a patient in Saudi Arabia. The womb was from a living donor, however doctors had to remove the transplant due to heavy clotting, 99 days after transplantation.

File photo of in vitro sperm injection into oocyte,
Image: Ekem.

However, after Ms Sert's transplant surgery in 2011, she began to menstruate — an indication of a working womb. Ms Sert's doctors in Antalya, Turkey monitored the long-term success of the transplant for 18 months before in vitro fertilisation.

Despite no uterus, Ms Sert did produce egg cells. This March, doctors fertilised one of these eggs, and placed the resulting embryo in Ms Sert's functioning transplanted womb.

Since Ms Sert's transplant, two women received mother-to-daughter womb transplants at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden last September, the first such mother-to-daughter transplants, reportedly without complications. Ms Sert is the first womb-transplant recipient to become pregnant.

Doctors plan birth by Caesarean section, and removal the transplanted uterus within a few months thereafter to avoid further health problems, including possible rejection.

Amongst anticipated health risks of the pregnancy is birth defects from immunosuppressive drugs taken to prevent rejection of the transplant.

Reportedly, one in 5,000 women are born without a womb, while others lose their womb to disease.