Womb transplants for trans women 'in next 10 years'

Womb transplants could mean biological men getting pregnant within the 'next 10 years', according to one of the surgeons who carried out the UK’s first such operation on two biological women.

Earlier this year, a British woman has been given a womb by her older sister in the UK’s first womb transplant.

The 34-year-old married woman received the organ – also called the uterus – during an operation lasting nine hours and 20 minutes at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, which is part of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Her sister, 40, has completed her own family by giving birth to two children, and was willing to donate her womb.

The recipient, who lives in England and does not wish to be named, has stored embryos with the aim of undergoing IVF later this year.

A leading surgeon in the US who established the uterus transplant programme at the University of Alabama said it was “medically possible” for trans women to receive the transplant.

“I think there’s a lot of providers, such as myself, who would envision that is the case,” Dr Paige Porrett told the MailOnline last week.

“I think that it is certainly medically possible. The future is wide open. I think it’ll happen in the future, but there’s going to be a lot more work that our community needs to do to be able to offer that safely.”

The lead surgeons for the UK transplant, which took place on a Sunday in early February, were Professor Richard Smith, clinical lead at the charity Womb Transplant UK and consultant gynaecological surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and Isabel Quiroga, consultant surgeon at the Oxford Transplant Centre, part of Oxford University Hospitals.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Prof Smith said the experience had been “quite remarkable”, adding that the operation had been a “massive success”.

He added: “It was incredible. I think it was probably the most stressful week in my surgical career but also unbelievably positive. The donor and recipient are over the moon, just over the moon."

However, on the issue of trans women potentially receiving the transplant, Prof Smith said there was not currently “technical feasibility” for this to take place.

He said the pelvic anatomy, vascular anatomy and shape of the pelvis are different, and there are issues to overcome with the microbiome – the network of micro-organisms that live in the human body.

“We’re very aware that the 2010 Gender Equality Act mandates equal treatment for cisgender and transgender women,” he said.

“But that assumes technical feasibility. And in this case, currently, there is not technical feasibility.

He went on: “My own sense is if there are transgender transplants that are going to take place, they are many years off. There are an awful lot of steps to go through.

“My suspicion is a minimum of 10 to 20 years.”