Woman ecstatic after sibling donates womb in UK for the first time

Oxford surgeons have performed the first uterine transplant in the United Kingdom.

The recipient was a 34-year-old woman, and her 40-year-old sibling was the donor. Both parties desire to remain anonymous.

Doctors report that both sisters recovered well from surgery, and the younger sister intends to undergo IVF using embryos she and her husband have in storage this fall.

In February, a staff of approximately 20 performed the 17-hour-long procedures in adjacent operating rooms at the Churchill hospital.

She was born with Type 1 Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH), a condition in which the uterus is absent or underdeveloped but the ovaries are functional.

Prior to surgery, she and her spouse underwent fertility treatment, and they have eight embryos in storage. Her sister already had two children, so her family is complete. Both sisters are English residents.

Both received counseling prior to surgery, and the Human Tissue Authority reviewed and approved their cases. The estimated NHS costs of £25,000 were covered by the charity Womb Transplant UK.

More than thirty employees participated in the event for free. 

Prof. Smith, Chairman of Womb Transplant UK, stated that the team was authorized to perform a total of 15 transplants - five with live donors and ten with deceased, brain-dead donors - but would need an additional £300,000 to cover the cost of all the procedures.

More than 15,000 American women of reproductive age suffer from absolute uterine factor infertility, he stated.

They were either born without a uterus or underwent a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer or other abnormalities. In 2014, a Swedish woman became the first to give birth following a uterine transplant. She received a womb from an acquaintance in her sixties.

Since then, there have been 100 womb transplants worldwide, and approximately 50 babies have been delivered, primarily in the United States and Sweden, but also in Turkey, India, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Germany, and France.

In 2015, surgeons in the United Kingdom were authorized to commence performing womb transplants.

The team wrote in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that "institutional delays" and Covid " were the reasons why it took so long for the United Kingdom to conduct its first operation.

Womb Transplant UK reported that more than 500 women had expressed interest in participating in the program, and that a dozen had embryos in storage or were undergoing fertility treatment - a prerequisite for being placed on the waiting list.

One of them is the 31-year-old Lydia Brain, who had to undergo a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer. She received a diagnosis at 24 years old. She and her partner have paid $15,000 for fertility treatment and are now storing multiple embryos.

She stated to sources that Infertility was a major consequence of her cancer. It affects one daily because they cannot avoid pregnant women, infants, and their acquaintances entering this phase of life.

Lydia stated that she would contemplate surrogacy and adoption, but that both options presented challenges as the laws and the processes are very complicated. Also, she explained that it is very rare to get a newborn baby when adopting.

Lydia currently works for the charity Eve Appeal, which finances research and raises awareness about the five gynecological cancers: uterine, ovarian, cervical, vulval, and vaginal.