A source of pride for all Arabs Saudi doctors do world’s first womb transplant [Archives:2002/11/Last Page]

March 11 2002

LONDON (Reuters) – Doctors in Saudi Arabia have carried out the first world’s first uterine transplant in a groundbreaking operation on a 26-year-old woman, according to research published Thursday.
The surgery, which took place 2 years ago, was deemed a success by the Saudi team of doctors but the transplanted womb had to be removed 99 days later because of blood clotting.
Dr. Wafa Fageeh, who led the surgical team at the King Fahad Hospital in Jeddah, reported the research in the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.
He said the technique could be a useful treatment in the future for tens of thousands of infertile women whose only chance of having children was through surrogacy.
“Further clinical trials and development of the surgical techniques could make uterine transplantation useful in the treatment of infertility, especially in communities where the surrogate mother concept is unacceptable from a religious or ethical point of view,” Fageeh said.
Some doctors hailed the surgery as an exciting development, but a leading British fertility expert said the operation was a complete failure and could endanger women’s lives.
“Blood clotting is exactly what you would expect and is what happened in all the experiments previously carried out in every experimental animal in which this has been done,” Robert Winston told BBC radio.
“It is a great pity that women’s hopes have been raised in this way,” he added.
The unidentified woman, who was 26 at the time of the transplant, received the uterus of a woman 20 years older who had had a hysterectomy. The recipient’s own uterus had been removed following severe bleeding after a caesarean section.
Fageeh said the transplanted womb had responded well and the woman, who had been given drugs to prevent her body rejecting the donated organ and hormones to increase the lining of the uterus, had two normal periods before the organ was removed.
In an editorial in the journal, Louis Keith of Northwestern University Medical School and Giuseppe Del Priore of New York University Medical Center said that, although a uterus is not a life-saving organ, the importance of the achievement should not be underestimated.
“To some individuals, childbearing is the greatest event of a lifetime. To such persons, transplantation of organs of reproduction would not be considered frivolous or unnecessary, even though these organs do not sustain life,” they write.