The first womb transplants will be carried out in the UK if doctors can raise enough funds to complete their research.

Richard Smith, consultant gynaecological surgeon, and his team have been researching the possibility of transplanting a donor womb into a woman so she can have a child – or even two – before the donated womb is removed.

This means the recipient would only have to take drugs to help their bodies accept the transplant for a limited period – reducing long-term health risks.

They have launched a charity to raise cash to finish the preparatory research and to perform the first five operations. Uterine Transplantation UK aims to raise £500,000 to complete the final phase of groundwork before performing the surgery.

Womb transplants offer an alternative to surrogacy or adoption for women whose own wombs have been damaged by diseases such as cervical cancer. Once the research is complete the scientists can apply for ethics permission.

Dr Smith said: "We are confident, especially with a transplant abroad being carried out with the same methodology that we have recommended, that within two years or so, given enough funding, we can begin helping women in the UK."