India’s first womb transplants: 2 moms to donate uteri, help daughters conceive
Doctors at a Pune hospital will conduct India’s first womb transplantation next week when they will transfer two uteri from healthy donors to two recipients, who are unable to bear children.
The donors in both the cases are the mothers of the recipients and the procedure will be done consecutively at Pune’s Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute (GCLI) on May 18 and 19.
If the surgery is successful, both the recipients will be able to conceive using in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and have children.
“Two women are getting uterus transplants—one because she could not conceive as she did not have a uterus, and the other because she suffers from Asherman’s Syndrome (scar tissue in the uterus),” said Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, medical director, GCLI, who is heading the team of 13 doctors doing the surgery.
Womb transplantation was first done in Sweden in 2012 and the first baby, born to the recipient in 2014, was delivered prematurely through Caesarean section, and was healthy, according to the the British medical journal The Lancet.
The Maharashtra directorate of health services granted GCLI the licence to carry out womb transplantation for five years after inspecting its facilities in April this year.
“Till now, around 25 transplants have been attempted, of which post-transplant pregnancies happened in less than 10 cases. The process will provide legal, biological and gestational motherhood to the recipient,” said Dr Puntambekar.
Dr Puntambekar said the surgical team went to Sweden to learn about the transplantation procedure before practising on human cadavers in Germany and the US.
“Before going ahead in our hospital, we followed a rigorous process while choosing the donor and the recipient of womb,” he said.
Swedish doctors are likely to participate in the procedure.
The hospital has been preparing for womb transplants over the past few months with recipients being made to undergo ovulation stimulation through IVF. Frozen embryos are implanted in the womb after transplantation for the couple to conceive.
Surgeons at GCLI will transplant a womb in a third woman, who is suffering from cervical cancer, at a later stage.
Besides GCLI, Bangalore-based Milann International Institute for Training and Research in Reproductive Health has also received approval from Indian Council of Medical Research for womb transplantation on two women, but no dates have been announced yet.
The first two womb transplants will be done free though the cost of procedure is around Rs 7-8 lakh.
“The transplantation is not known to harm the recipient or the baby even despite the use of immuno-suppressants and the multiple surgeries involved,” said Dr Puntambekar.
He cited data on kidney transplant patients successfully delivering babies despite being put on immuno-suppressants in support.
The Pune surgeons will retrieve the uterus using a laparoscopic technique, which is expected to shorten the duration of the procedure.
“It took 16 hours for uterus transplantation in Sweden, but we will do it in reduced time, by using a laparoscopic technique for retrieval,” said gynaecologist Dr Milind Telang, who is part of the team doing the transplantation.