Physicians at the University of Gothenburg on Tuesday said they have completed the world's first two mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.
According to the Swedish university, a team of more than 10 surgeons transplanted uteruses into two women over the weekend "without complications." The surgeons had trained together for the procedure for several years.
Both women are in their 30s and received the transplant uterus from their mothers. One of the recipients was born without a uterus, and the other had her uterus removed years ago because of cervical cancer.
"Both patients who received new uteri are doing fine but are tired after surgery," the university said in a statement, adding that the donor mothers "will be discharged from the hospital within a few days."
However, surgeon Michael Olausson says, "We are not going to call it a complete success until this results in children. That's the best proof."
Last year, Turkish doctors said they performed the world's first successful uterus transplant using a deceased donor. Although doctors say the recipient is doing well, she has not yet begun fertility treatment. Before that, Saudi Arabian surgeons in 2000 completed a uterus transplant, but had to remove it three months later because of a blood clot.
Olausson notes that the risk of organ rejection may be lower in the mother-to-daughter transplants and stresses the importance of the "emotional connection" between mother and daughter.
Physicians will monitor the two patients and their reactions to anti-rejection drugs for a year. They plan to remove the wombs after a maximum of two pregnancies so that the women can stop taking the drugs.
"There's no doubt this will be a pioneering step if it's successful," says Scott Nelson, University of Glasgow's chair of obstetrics and gynecology, adding, "At present, the only option for these women is to have a surrogacy" (BBC News, 9/18; AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/18; Pollard, Reuters, 9/18).