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Transplanted uterus: is pregnancy possible?
Transplants and life-saving transplants have been carried out successfully for a long time. Doctors mainly used liver, kidneys, but also hearts successfully in other people's bodies. Only recently have hands, faces and other parts of the body been added so that patients can enjoy a better quality of life.
Some time ago there was a transplant scandal in Germany, in which, for example, a Göttingen doctor advised his patients to do transplants, although there was no medical need. For that he had manipulated the logs. Such reports are unsettling and contribute to a further decline in the willingness to donate organs.
But this incident is the exception. It has recently been reported that Swedish medical doctors have used nine women to have a womb from their immediate female relatives. This was the first such intervention in Europe. This report is certainly to be regarded as another milestone in medicine, but the question remains at the University Hospital in Gothenburg whether women are also able to give birth to children.
"This is a new type of surgery," says Brannstrom, who heads the obstetrics and gynecology department at the clinic. Due to the novelty, there is no “textbook” for such an intervention, the physician explains. That is why he would like to offer a seminar together with his colleagues in February that should also take place on the basis of a scientific report.
Successful transplantation in Turkey and Saudi Arabia In the past, Uteri transplants have already been carried out too successfully in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. None of the women could get pregnant as hoped. The nine patients in the Swedish clinic were either born without a womb or had to have them removed because of tumors. In order to enable them to become pregnant, the organs were temporarily implanted. If there are no complications, the doctors want to use the embryos, as can be seen in "The World".
In addition to ethical questions, physical problems, especially in the early days after a transplant, are not uncommon. For example, kidney transplants often weaken the immune system and increase the risk of certain infections. The triggers for this are the medication needed to prevent rejection of the foreign organ. High blood pressure, swelling, diabetes and an increased risk of cancer can also occur in transplants carried out in Sweden as a result of the medication, so that the organs should be removed again after two pregnancies at the latest.
Fertilization only possible artificially. Some of the patients had a period six weeks after the transplantation, which is a sign for the doctors that organs are functioning properly and none of the recipients and donors had to be given intensive medical care after the operation. Artificial insemination is necessary because the uterus were not connected to the fallopian tubes during the operation. This prevents pregnancy naturally.
The Swedish project is being followed by medical doctors worldwide, because the intervention is highly risky for the donors. British authorities say the risk is too great, says medical doctor Richard Smith from the organization Womb Transplant UK. They prefer to use uteri from the dying or the dead.
Care from the placenta has not been clarified. In addition to the possible life-threatening consequences for those involved, the question of sufficient care for the babies through the placenta is a further concern of the medical profession. "It is a research study," says the medical practitioner. "The women may be able to have children, but there are no guarantees," said Brannstrom. The uterine transplants successfully practiced in mice, sheep and baboons give hope. The primates could not have any offspring. (fr)
Image: Martin Büdenbender / pixelio.de