Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New York Times on Uterine Transplants

Roni Rabin of the New York Times (Jan. 30) writes:

The telephone calls and e-mail messages started streaming in just hours after the first news articles reported that a uterine transplant might be in the works. One caller was a 25-year-old Alabama woman who was born without a uterus. Another was a 33-year-old Illinois woman who had a hysterectomy at 24. All of the women, desperate to carry a child of their own, had heard that doctors at New York Downtown Hospital had harvested wombs from eight brain-dead human donors, laying the groundwork for the first human uterine transplant in the Western world. They wanted to be candidates for transplants. (One caller even offered to be a living donor, saying she had already had children and no longer needed her uterus.)

The hospital has no immediate plans for a uterine transplant, but even the possibility has been greeted with opprobrium by many medical ethicists, fertility doctors and patient advocates. They said that a uterine transplant is a radical and potentially dangerous solution to a problem that is not life-threatening and that can be resolved in other ways, like using a surrogate. The risks, they said, extend not only to the mother but also to the unborn child.

When and where an actual transplant of a uterus might take place is anyone’s guess. Dr. Bruce D. Logan, the president of New York Downtown Hospital, said the hospital was supportive of the research but did not expect to perform a uterine transplant “any time in the foreseeable future.”  The only human uterine transplant to date was carried out in Saudi Arabia in 2000 and used an organ from a live donor, which is not being considered by the New York researchers, but the uterus failed after three months and had to be removed.

Read Prospect of Womb Transplant Raises Hopes and Red Flags.

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