Womb transplants will one day be available in Irish hospitals but “not in the near future”, a leading obstetrician has said.
This week in Oxford, surgeons transplanted the womb of a 40-year-old woman into her 34-year-old sister.
Both women have recovered well from the surgery and the younger sister has a number of embryos in storage that will eventually be implanted into her new womb.
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, Dr Peter Boylan said Irish women should not expect the procedure to be available in Irish hospitals anytime soon.
“I think it will probably take a long time,” he said.
“That’s similar to all surgical developments; it takes a while for it to settle down into becoming a standard type of treatment.
“IVF is exactly the same - it started in the UK and then it took several years for people to train and become comfortable with it and understand the nuances.
“The same thing would happen with surgery like this.”
After over 25 years of research, a team co-led by @ImperialNHS and @OUHospitals has performed the UK's first womb transplant - and given a woman born without a functioning womb the possibility of getting pregnant and carrying her own baby.
🔗 https://t.co/b1d1cKibsN pic.twitter.com/1z3efGupua
— OUH (@OUHospitals) August 23, 2023
The operation was a first in Britain but the procedure has been performed several times before in other countries.
Institutional delays and the pandemic meant it was repeatedly delayed.
“Sweden was the first place to have a successful series of womb transplants resulting in birth of healthy babies - that was back in 2014,” Dr Boylan said.
“Since then, there’s been about 100 transplants around the world and about 50 healthy babies reported from those.
“So, it’s still relatively early and, obviously, if it’s the first one in the UK, then it’s very new surgery and technology and so on.”
Dr Boylan described the surgery itself as “tricky” and required a large and experienced number of medical professionals.
“You have to dissect out blood vessels from the donor very delicately and then they have to be joined up to blood vessels in the recipient woman who is receiving the donated womb,” he said.
Doctors will wait up to a year before implanting the embryos into the donor recipient's new womb.
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Main image: A woman holding her pregnant belly. Picture by: Tetra Images, LLC / Alamy Stock Photo