Uterus transplants will allow 2 women to conceive only once
MUMBAI CITY NEWS: Doctors said the decision to remove the transplanted uterus was taken to reduce the immunosuppressant drug dependence of the recipientsUpdated: May 21, 2017 00:08 IST
Although the family of the 21-year-old from Solapur, who is India’s first ever uterus transplant recipient, is celebrating the preliminary stage success of the surgery, doctors said she and the second uterus recipient, a 24-year-old from Baroda, who underwent surgery on Friday, will have only one shot at motherhood. Reason: The uteruses will be removed once they give birth.
Discussing the extremely complicated surgery that has not been tried before, doctors said the decision to remove the transplanted uterus was taken to reduce the immunosuppressant drug dependence of the recipients. Organ rejection is a major risk in transplant surgeries. The rejection risk can be lessened with the use of immunosuppressant drugs that have to be taken by the recipient for lifetime.
"We will continue following up with the recipient for eight months. By the end of that period, she is supposed to start ovulating and if things go as planned she will conceive," said Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, director of Galaxy Care Hospital, who is leading the team of 12 surgeons who performed the surgery.
The woman from Solapur was born with a condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, a disorder that mainly affects women’s reproductive systems, but has five siblings, all of whom are fertile. “The family decided to opt for the procedure because they wanted to have a biological child, that’s also why they have supported the decision to remove the uterus once the baby is born,” said a doctor from the team.
Doctors said her 41-year-old mother, who donated the uterus, regained consciousness on Friday morning after a long period of anesthesia. Primary results have shown her health parameters are normal and no infection or internal bleeding was found.
However, doctors are more worried about the Baroda woman, who is diagnosed with a condition known as Asherman’s Syndrome — scarring (adhesions) of the uterus. The scarring causes lighter periods or no periods at all and almost all women who are affected are diagnosed with infertility. Doctors transplanted the uterus donated by her 46-year-old mother.
“The first child of the patient died soon after birth and after that she has suffered two abortions. Her vagina and uterus are extremely small and after multiple surgeries, she stopped ovulating,” said Puntambekar.
The surgeries have raised questions about whether patients should be subjected to such high-risk procedures when there are safer and tested ways for infertile couples to have children. Dr Kamini Rao, medical director, Milann, a fertility centre in Bangalore, explained why a life-threatening procedure like a uterus transplant cannot be withdrawn completely in the presence of easier alternatives such as surrogacy and adoption. “It’s one way to look at it as a practically unfeasible option and another as a medical feat. We as surgeons will try and develop or discover ways to give more options to people and only after a scientific approach can we perfect this art of transplant. What’s bad if along with surrogacy and adoption people have one more option to celebrate parenthood,” said Rao, who had assisted Dr Mats Brännström, a pioneer in the field of uterus transplant, in two of his nine successful surgeries.