Womb transplants 'within two years'

Successful research on rabbits gives hope to thousands of women

British scientists believe they will be able to carry out the first-ever successful womb transplant within two years. They have worked out how to transplant a womb with a good blood supply which could mean it lasts long enough to carry a pregnancy to term.

A breakthrough in this area would offer an alternative to adoption or surrogacy for women whose wombs have been damaged by diseases such as cervical cancer. Around 15,000 women of childbearing age have a womb that does not work or were born without one.

Richard Smith, consultant gynaecological surgeon at Hammersmith Hospital in London, presented his latest research on rabbits at a US fertility conference. He and his team now need £25,000 for the next area of research and £250,000 to complete a set of studies but have been denied grants by several medical research bodies.

They have set up a charity, Uterine Transplant UK, and say the first human transplant could be carried out within two years if they raise enough funds. Their most recent study involved five donor rabbits and five recipients.

Five rabbits received a womb using a "vascular patch technique", which connected major blood vessels. Of the five, two rabbits lived to 10 months and tests after death showed the transplants were a success. Mr Smith's next step is to get rabbits pregnant through IVF to see how the womb copes, before moving on to larger animals. Previous animal attempts have failed.

The only human-to-human transplant ended with the womb having to be removed. Saudi surgeons gave a 26-year-old woman a new uterus in 2000. The womb shrivelled within months. Mr Smith thinks this was because surgeons had not worked out how to connect the blood vessels properly.

The latest experiment involved transplanting the womb with all its arteries, veins and bigger vessels. Mr Smith said: "There are certain technical issues to be ironed out but the crux of how to carry out a successful graft that's properly vascularised – I think we've cracked that one."

Mr Smith said there was little interest in the studies in the medical profession but the demand from patients was huge. He said: "There's a lot of dismissal in the profession in terms of this being a step too far in fertility management. But for a woman who is desperate for a baby, this is incredibly important."

Mr Smith, who presented his findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Atlanta, Georgia, said the womb would only stay in place until the woman had had the children she wanted. "The plan is that once a woman has had her children, the uterus comes out and she can come off immunosuppressants."

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: SEN Jobs Available Devon

Infrastructure Lead, (Trading, VCE, Converged, Hyper V)

£600 - £900 per day: Harrington Starr: Infrastructure Lead, (Trading infrastru...

Software Solution Technician - Peterborough - up to £21,000

£20000 - £21000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Solutio...

Supply teachers needed- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Supply teachers needed for va...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering