Transplant :: Womb transplants may one day be a reality

Current organ donor networks appear able to supply human wombs, or uteruses, for transplantation as a possible approach to treating infertility, researchers report in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr Giuseppe Del Priore of New York Downtown Hospital and colleagues came to this conclusion after participating in a local organ donor network retrieval team for over 6 months.

Approximately 1,800 heart-beating, but brain-dead, organ donors were identified through an existing donor network. The removal of several organs took place in about 150 of the donors. Nine had specifically consented to donate their uterus. The uterus was removed without complications in eight donors. Tissue testing suggested that the organs were, in fact, suitable for transplantation.

The researchers point out that the transplant of organs that are not needed to preserve life raises ethical issues. Thus far, the only human uterine transplant that has been performed was “controversial and unsuccessful.”

Nevertheless, they note that surgical techniques have improved and the successful retrieval of a usable human uterus brings the possibility of such transplants closer. “Our hope,” the team concludes, “is to eventually restore reproductive function through transplantation of a human uterus.”

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