In the spring of 2013, a team of researchers and doctors at the University of Gothenburg performed the last of nine planned uterus transplants. The six-month follow up shows that live-donor uterus transplantation has a low risk despite extended surgery duration. In the next phase of the world-unique research project researchers will help seven of the women become pregnant through IVF treatment.

In Sweden alone, an estimated 2,000 young women of fertile age cannot become pregnant either because they were born without a womb or lost it later due to disease.

Professor Mats Barnnstorm, researcher at the University of Gothenburg and chief physician, is leading a unique research project aiming to make it possible for these women to have a uterus transplant and then get pregnant.

After more than a decade of research that has been evaluated in almost 40 scientific articles, in May 2012 the research team received permission from the Regional Ethical Review Board in Gothenburg to perform uterus transplants on ten Swedish women — the first in the world with living donors.

The first transplant was completed 15 September 2012, and the ninth and final in the spring of 2013. The tenth woman involved in the project had to be denied at an early stage for medical reasons. Five of the donors are mothers of the receivers; the remaining four a close relative.

Owing to Scientific and medical importance in two of the nine cases, the transplanted uterus had to be removed. In one case, due to blood clots in the transplanted blood vessels, in the other because of a local infection that was not fully treatable with antibiotics.

‘In a scientific and medical perspective, the transplants have been successful, especially in comparison with other types of transplants that have been introduced and where far fewer initial operations have been successful.’

‘The women who had to have their transplanted wombs removed were of course very disappointed, but both of them have recovered well,’ says Professor Brännström.

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