First Womb Transplant Baby Ever is Born, And This is a Massive Game-changer
It's been a long road for the researchers, but it's paid off, big-time: last month, the world's first ever womb-transplant baby was born in Sweden. It's a huge medical breakthrough, not only because the options for infertile women have now been expanded drastically, but because it could eventually mean that men might be able give birth, too — at least theoretically.
It's almost too sci-fi to believe: nearly two years ago, a woman who'd been born with no uterus (a condition which affects one in 4,500), had her 61-year-old family friend's womb transplanted into her. A year later, an embryo — which had been made previously through a process of IVF, using her own egg and her husband's sperm — was implanted into the uterus. Just under nine months later, she gave birth to her own baby boy in Gothenberg, Sweden.
Over the last couple of years, Swedish scientists began transplanting uteri into nine women; seven of these have been successful, and two of the women are now six months pregnant. It's been groundbreaking research; before them, only two other attempts had been made to transplant these organs, and none had led to births. The success of the Swedish research will mean big things for the rest of the world. As Dr Richard Smith of the UK Womb Transplantation Team told BBC Radio 4:
The great big unknown always was could a transplanted uterus carry a baby and have a successful live birth and that's why what's happened here is so exciting. The great unknown is now answered which is that it is possible — it's the proof of purpose.
This is of course a huge deal for women who struggle with infertility, but who long to carry their own children. As Smith explains:
It would reduce the demand for surrogacy however there are still plenty of women who will prefer to go down that route and avoid major surgery.But there are many, many women who would prefer to carry a baby themselves. There's also a bit of a legal minefield around surrogacy, and to avoid all of that and to have their own baby is incredible important (for some women).
But it's not only women for whom this is a major game-changer. Theoretically, a womb could be transplanted into a man, too. And after today, there's no reason to think that this transplanted uterus couldn't then carry a child — lead researcher Professor Mats Brannstrom confirmed as much to the BBC, saying that it might really be technically possible, using hormone injections to support the pregnancy itself.
Of course, this wild, Junior-esque scenario is still far in the future. In the meantime, the first womb-transplant baby is still pretty miraculous. "It was a pretty tough journey over the years, but we now have the most amazing baby," the baby's father said to the AP. "He is very, very cute, and he doesn't even scream, he just murmurs." He added:
He's no different from any other child, but he will have a good story to tell.One day he can look at the newspaper articles about how he was born and know that he was the first in the world" to be born this way.
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