A pioneering procedure has led to a baby being born from the same womb that nurtured his mother.
The Swedish mother, who lost her uterus to cancer in her 20s, said it was “unimaginable” that she now had her own child thanks to her mother’s donated womb.
“It can’t be described how happy we are,” she said. “It’s everything that I hoped for and a little bit more.”
She asked that she and her mother not be identified in order to protect the privacy of her son, who is now nine months old.
Dr Mats Brannstrom, who is behind the revolutionary process, has ushered in four babies — all boys — with transplanted wombs, and a fifth is on the way. He said there was something very special about this case: “It’s one uterus bridging three generations of a family,” he said.
Before his breakthrough there had been two attempts to transplant a womb, in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but no live births. Doctors in Britain, France, the US and elsewhere are planning similar operations with wombs from women who have died recently, but not from living donors.
Brannstrom, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Sahlgrenska university hospital in Gothenburg, first transplanted wombs into nine women about two years ago as part of an experimental study, including the new mother, who was the first.
Complications forced the removal of two of the wombs. The women in the trial had either been born without a womb or had it removed due to cancer.
The new mother, who is in her early 30s, recalled that as hospital staffers wheeled in her mother for the transplant, “I was crying and told her I loved her and thank you for doing this.”
The woman’s mother— the baby’s grandmother — said she immediately agreed when her daughter raised the idea. She acknowledged she has difficulty understanding the magnitude of the birth, but “at the same time, I sometimes think that I am a part of history”.
The new mother underwent IVF to make embryos using her eggs and her husband’s sperm. Doctors waited a year after the transplant to ensure everything was ok. After four attempts to transfer embryos into the new womb, she got pregnant. There were no complications and she delivered via caesarean section as planned.
“Feeling him against my cheek was the most wonderful feeling ever,” the mother said. In tribute to Brannstrom, she and her husband gave the baby the middle name of Mats.
She said they would one day tell the boy how he was conceived.
“My thought is that he will always know how wanted he was,” she said. “Hopefully when he grows up, uterus transplantation [will be] an acknowledged treatment for women like me.”
Brannstrom and his colleagues are planning more groundbreaking womb transplant procedures. One trial will use wombs from recently deceased women and another will employ robotic surgery to shorten the duration of the operations.
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