Bioethics Blogs

‘One uterus bridging three generations of a family’: Woman who received her mother’s transplanted womb gives birth

Photo via freedigitalphotos.net

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

The fourth baby born via a transplanted uterus isn’t just a medical success story – it bridges three generations of a family.

A woman in Sweden who lost her own uterus to cancer in her 20s has given birth to a healthy baby boy after receiving a transplanted womb donated by her mother.

The womb transplantation experiment began in September 2012 and each recipient – women, mostly in their 30s – was either born without a uterus, or had it removed as part of their treatment for cervical cancer. Dr. Mats Brannstrom, chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Gothenburg and leader of this initiative explained that the transplanted uteruses were not connected to the women’s fallopian tubes, meaning that in order to become pregnant, their eggs were first retrieved and embryos were created using in-vitro fertilization, and then implanted in the transplanted uteruses. Complications following two of the womb transplant procedures resulted in the removal of the uteruses.

Brannstrom, who has delivered all four babies – with a fifth one on the way – said that there was something very special about this case: “It’s one uterus bridging three generations of a family.”

The parents determined that they will one day tell their son how he was conceived. “My thought is that he will always know how wanted he was,” the mother said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Hopefully when he grows up, uterus transplantation (will be) an acknowledged treatment for women like me and he will know that he was part of making that possible.”

One of the major concerns with the transplanted wombs was being able to effectively control the nutrients transferred to the fetus via the placenta, as well as ensuring that there was sufficient blow flow to the arteries.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.