A 34-year-old cis woman in England is the first recipient of a transplanted uterus in the United Kingdom. The operation brings the possibility of uterine transplantation and reproduction in trans women one step closer to reality.
The cis woman received the reproductive organ during an operation lasting more than nine hours at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.
Doctors want to try a penis transplant operation on a transgender man for the first time.
The procedure was carried out in February by Imperial College London professor James Smith and his colleague Isabel Quiroga from the Oxford Transplant Centre.
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Smith called the surgery a “massive success.” The recipient has stored embryos with the intention of undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) later this year.
“It was incredible,” Smith said of the operation. “I think it was probably the most stressful week in my surgical career but also unbelievably positive. The donor and recipient are over the moon.”
The donor was the recipient’s 40-year-old sister, who had previously given birth to two children.
While the operation could one day help trans women give birth to children, Smith says surgeons would have to work out some issues with the procedure first.
“My own sense is if there are transgender transplants that are going to take place, they are many years off,” Smith told inews.co.uk. “There are an awful lot of steps to go through. My suspicion is a minimum of 10 to 20 years.”
There is currently no “technical feasibility” to perform a uterine transplant on trans women, Smith said. Differences in pelvic and vascular anatomy in trans women, including the shape of the pelvis and issues with the microbiome — the network of micro-organisms that live in the human body — present particular challenges, he explained.
The first successful uterus transplant was performed at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden in 2014. Two years later, the procedure was carried out successfully in the United States.
About 50 babies worldwide have been born following the operation.
Uterine transplants are exceedingly rare and costly. The procedure is typically performed on women born without a uterus, giving them the opportunity to become pregnant and give birth.
According to Dr. Narendra Kaushik — a surgeon based in New Dehli, India — uterine transplantation for trans women is a reality waiting to happen.
“We cannot predict exactly when this will happen but it will happen soon,” Kaushik, who has 15 years of experience in gender-affirming surgeries, told The Mirror last year. “We have our plans and we are very optimistic.”
Transplanting uteruses into trans women, Kaushik said, is “the future”.