Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Uterine Transplants

The Washington Post ran a piece yesterday, First U.S. Uterine Transplant Planned. The article examines questions such as whether enough research and animal experimentation has been done to justify attempting the procedure in humans, and whether this is an option that should be available because the uterus is not necessary for life, unlike other commonly transplanted organs such as hearts and kidneys. The transplant would be considered temporary, allowing a woman to bear a child but is not intended as a lifetime replacement uterus, as the baby would be delivered via c-section and the uterus removed at that time. A November 2006 article from New Scientist reported that a physician at New York Downtown Hospital had been approved by its hospital review board for such a transplant, following "the first successful uterus transplant in a non-human primate" (a rhesus monkey) performed at the University of Pittsburgh. Scientists interviewed for that article were also skeptical that the procedure had been properly vetted through research.

Personally, I can't imagine wanting to carry a baby so badly that I would undergo a transplant procedure. Pregnancy has its own set of risks; adding transplantation risks to the mix seems like a dangerous and unnecessary option.

Click on the MeSH tag below to run a search for medical articles on uterine transplantation. Our Bodies, Our Blog also has coverage of the story.

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MeSH Tags: Uterus/transplantation

6 Comments:

Blogger Hilary said...

I don't think the risk is acceptable for the fetus or the mother. Should it be allowed? Tough ethical discussion.

It also falls under one of those options that I think will only be available to the rich and infertile. It is also easier for the rich and infertile to adopt. Not quite fair.

10:36 AM  
Blogger lisalee33 said...

"Personally, I can't imagine wanting to carry a baby so badly that I would undergo a transplant procedure." -- I'm right there with you. Especially when adoption is an option.

Why do so many in our society equate gestating a child with motherhood? Why is biological relation critical enough that egg donors and surrogate mothers are sought? Yes, in the US fertility science is only available to the rich and infertile (or the non-rich who are willing to incur massive debt).

Interestingly, the UK and some scandinavian countries provide limited fertility treatments through socialized healthcare. Which brings us back to what some in the UK called the "medical right" to bear children or pursue biological parenthood trumping issues of risk and cost. (Last fall there was uproar in the UK over regulation to not cover IVF treatments in obese women, due to significant high risk of failure)

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the woman is willing to take the risk what is the problem maybe some women werent given the right to choose to have a hysterectomy . i am 32 yrs old had one done at 26 . and i want to have a child again badly enough that i have a friend who is willing to donate her uterius to me so who are you people to judge this decision .

10:10 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Anonymous,
Please note that I'm not judging you. I simply can't imagine going through this procedure, given what I read about the lack of thorough research in this area. Transplantation is very serious business, as is pregnancy, and I want to make sure that there is good information on safety before this becomes overly common. I wish you well.
Also, this blog has moved over to WordPress, at http://womenshealthnews.wordpress.com. I'm typically not allowing comments through on the blogger address, but wanted to make sure your viewpoint was posted.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that everyone has a right to their own opinion and I hope that before anyone chooses to voice theirs, they consider all situations....

I am 21 years old and I have a 3 year old daughter. Shortly after delivering my daughter, a hysterectomy was medically necessary. I am a single mother, my child's father does not want to be involved so not only will I struggle with finding a man to accept me and my child, but he has to accept the fact that I cannot give him his own.

A uterine transplant would be an absolute miracle for me and I would do it in a heartbeat as long as I had exceptional medical treatment.

Those of you that are not faced with making such a decision can never imagine how amazing this would be for those of us that do.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

2nd anonymous,
I'm sorry that you had to have a hysterectomy. I'm curious, however, why you wouldn't simply look for a man who will accept you as you are, rather than one who would prefer that you undergo a relatively new and dangerous transplant procedure.

3:01 PM  

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