"Absolute uterine factor infertility" is the only type of female infertility still considered to be untreatable. Adoption and surrogacy have so far been the only options for women with absolute uterine factor infertility to acquire motherhood. However, the news of the first baby to be born from a woman who received a womb transplant brings hope to women with forms of absolute uterine factor infertility.
The researchers who performed the transplant - from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden - have been investigating the viability of womb transplantation for over 10 years. In 2013, the researchers initiated transplants in nine women with absolute uterine factor infertility who had received wombs from live donors. The Swedish woman who recently gave birth was one of these women. Although two of the women in the trial had to have hysterectomies during the initial months - because of severe infections and thrombosis - the team reported success in the other seven women.
According to Prof. Brännström, who led the team of researchers, "Our success is based on more than 10 years of intensive animal research and surgical training by our team and opens up the possibility of treating many young females worldwide that suffer from uterine infertility. What is more, we have demonstrated the feasibility of live-donor uterus transplantation, even from a postmenopausal donor."
CMDA National Director of Campus & Community Ministries J. Scott Ries, MD: “At first glance, it seems like a heartwarming tale of the newest medical ‘miracle’ and a triumph of life. But one doesn’t need to squeeze hard to deliver a very sour and sobering insight of what lies ahead. Though it is at its surface a sweet story of an otherwise impossible birth, deeply thinking and conscientious physicians must pause and ask, ‘At what cost?’
“Three things should deeply concern us in the pushing of these ethical boundaries:
- How many developing babies will we immolate on the altar of innovation? This patient on three separate occasions nearly rejected her uterine transplant. How many babies will be sacrificed in future trials of uterine transplantation?
- At what age do we stop? If it works for a 36-year-old woman, why not a 56-year-old woman? Or perhaps a 76-year-old woman? Where does the ‘right’ to bear a child end?
- Why limit a uterine transplantation to only women? In this day of gay and transgender rights, why not allow a male partner to receive a uterine transplantation? If the barrier is simply vascular anastomosis and hormone infusion, why not permit gestation within the abdomen of a man?
“Yet if we abandon moral standards given by that same Designer, on what basis shall we then make these decisions? We have so quickly progressed from challenging the boundaries of moral standards to repudiating their existence altogether. As followers of the Way, we must infuse in our culture the distinction between what could be and what should be.”
CMDA Resources on Reproductive Technology
CMDA Ethics Statement – Assisted Reproductive Technology