Eva Ottosson Photo: Doug Marke/PAGE ONE
World’s first womb transplant planned
A British based businesswoman is preparing to make history by becoming the first person in the world to have her womb transplanted into her daughter.By Mark Patterson and Martin Evans
6:30AM BST 13 Jun 2011
Eva Ottosson, 56, has agreed to take part in a groundbreaking new medical procedure, which if successful could see her donate her uterus to her 25-year-old daughter Sara.
Doctors hope if the transplant is successful Sara, who was born without reproductive organs, could become pregnant and carry a child in the same womb from which she herself was born.
It is hoped the complex transplant operation could take place as early as next spring in Sweden, where doctors in Gothenburg have been assessing suitable patients for the revolutionary procedure.
Mrs Ottosson, who runs a lighting business in Nottingham, said: â€œMy daughter and I are both very rational people and we both think â€˜itâ€™s just a wombâ€™.
â€œShe needs the womb and if Iâ€™m the best donor for her â€¦ well, go on. She needs it more than me. Iâ€™ve had two daughters so itâ€™s served me well.â€
The only previous womb transplant took place in Saudi Arabia in 2000 when a 26-year-old woman, who had lost her uterus due to haemorrhage, received a donated womb from a 46-year-old.
However the recipient developed problems and the womb had to be removed after 99 days.
Since then medical knowledge of the surgical procedure has improved and a team in Gothenburg, Sweden, believe they are at the stage where they can perform a successful transplant.
Sara, who lives and works in Stockholm, has a condition called Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which affects around 1 in 5,000 people, and means she was born without a uterus and some parts of the vagina.
The cause is unknown but like many women with the condition Sara only realised she was missing her reproductive organs when she was a teenager and failed to begin menstruating.
If the procedure works, Sara will have her own eggs fertilised using her boyfriendâ€™s sperm and then implanted into her donated womb.
Sara said she was unconcerned about the implications of receiving the womb that she herself was carried in.
She said: â€œI havenâ€™t really thought about that. Iâ€™m a biology teacher and itâ€™s just an organ like any other organ. But my mum did ask me about this. She said â€˜isnâ€™t it weird?â€™ And my answer is no. Iâ€™m more worried that my mum is going to have a big operation.â€
She added: â€œIt would mean the world to me for this to work and to have children. At the moment I am trying not to get my hopes up so that I am not disappointed. But we have also been thinking about adoption for a long time and if the transplant fails then we will try to adopt.â€
Dr Mats Brannstrom, who is leading the medical team, said a womb transplant remained one of the most complex operations known to medical science.
He said: â€œTechnically it is lot more difficult than transplanting a kidney, liver or heart. The difficulty with it is avoiding haemorrhage and making sure you have long enough blood vessels to connect the womb.
â€œYou are also working deep down in the pelvis area and it is like working in a funnel. It is not like working with a kidney, which is really accessible.â€
Mrs Ottosson said she hoped by talking about the operation it would help bring attention to an otherwise rarely publicised condition.
She said: â€œThe girls who have MRKH are a silent group who donâ€™t like to talk about it. So we hope that this will help those girls and that by talking about the condition we can encourage medical science to pinpoint what causes it.â€
Sara and her mother are among a small group chosen to take part in the programme.
They have undergone tests and are now waiting to hear if they will be the first to undergo the groundbreaking procedure.