India’s 1st womb transplant ‘dangerous escapade of surgical cowboys’, warns doc

By Sadaguru Pandit | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2017 09:06 AM IST

A Swedish doctor, who performed the world’s first successful uterus transplant surgery, warned on Thursday the womb transplant being attempted by surgeons at a Pune hospital is with “no proper preparations at all” and will put the patients at a “very high risk”.

A team of 12 doctors at Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute (GCLI) will conduct India’s first womb transplant on Thursday when they transfer a mother’s uterus to her 21-year-old daughter, who does not have a uterus.

“What is planned in Pune is a dangerous escapade of surgical cowboys wanting to be the first in their country and to get (worldwide) publicity and fame easy, “ Dr Mats Brännström, the head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy under University of Gothenburg, told the Hindustan Times.

Dr Brännström led the world’s first womb transplantation in Sweden in 2012 and the first baby, born to the recipient in 2014, was delivered prematurely through a caesarian section and was healthy.

The Swedish professor said his team was assisted by a number of skilled and talented physicians, scientists, and support staff from Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Stockholm IVF in Sweden, the University of Valencia in Spain, Australia’s Griffith University and the Cleveland Clinic, Florida.

Dr Brännström said excessive bleeding in the donor and dangers of the recipient catching an infection are among the possible downsides.

“The surgery in the donor takes 10 to 13 hours and the recipient 4 to 6 hours. Not to mention, it is considered the most difficult live donor surgery by transplant surgeons,” he added.

Experts from Pune told HT that the surgery will last for almost 8 hours with the first phase of the donor surgery taking 6 and that on the recipient two and a half hours.

Dr Brännström added a transplant surgery needs to be registered as a clinical trial and that a similar attempt in China by the country’s top laparoscopy surgeon 2 months ago failed.

The first 4 cases in the United States also failed despite the fact that the team included renowned experts in transplant surgery and who had trained in animals. The USA performed it’s first such transplant surgery in 2012.

Dr Brännström said they trained on animals, including sheep, pig and baboon, for 15 years before taking their first case, which the Indian doctors “have ignored completely”.

“That is the great difference. We advise all groups around the world to chose one large animal for team and surgery training (before performing it on humans),” he said.

Sweden scenario

After careful planning by Brännström, 9 women received a new uterus from transplantation in 2012 in Sweden, where approximately 2,000-3,000 women are childless because of a dysfunctional or missing uterus.

In September 2014, the first transplanted woman delivered a baby – a healthy and normally developed boy.

Phases of the surgery

Phase 1

Psychological analysis: Doctors talk to the donor and the recipient to make them understand the risks of the surgery and evaluate if they are physically fit.

Phase 2

Donor’s surgery: Uterus is removed from the donor’s womb. The surgery performed under prolonged anaesthesia has a risk of cardiovascular and respiratory complications. There is a possibility of excessive bleeding as well.

Phase 3

Transplant: Doctors attach the uterus, after preserving in ice, to the recipient. The recipient is kept under a heavy dose of immunosuppressants so that the body doesn’t reject the organ.

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