According to a case report published by the BJOG, an international journal of obstetrics and gynecology, on Wednesday, a team of doctors has successfully performed the UK's first womb transplant.1
The donor, a 40-year-old mother of two, donated her womb to her 34-year-old sister, who was born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser — a rare condition that results in a missing or underdeveloped womb. The nine-hour-long surgery was carried out in early February at Oxford's Churchill Hospital.2
Both sisters, who live in England and wish to remain anonymous, have recovered well. The younger sister has regular menstrual cycles and plans to undergo IVF treatment and use the embryos she and her husband have in storage to conceive.3
The cost of surgery, which included paying for the operating room and the patient's hospital stay — surgeons and medical staff reportedly volunteered — was borne by Womb Transplant UK.4
Though the womb was successfully transplanted, the woman must take immunosuppressant drugs throughout her future pregnancies to prevent her body from rejecting the donor organ.5
While the transplant is expected to last a maximum of five years before the womb is removed, the woman can conceive a child only twice as the immunosuppressive drugs reportedly carry long-term health risks.6
Narrative A, as provided by Metro. This successful womb transplant gives thousands of women born with an absent or underdeveloped uterus but functioning ovaries — or women who have had their womb removed following cancer or conditions such as endometriosis — the possibility of getting pregnant and a chance to have children. The fact that more than half of women who received a womb transplant in the US went on to have successful pregnancies should be enough to silence critics and cull any skepticism about the procedure.
Narrative B, as provided by Sky News. While the UK's first successful womb transplant offers a glimmer of hope to women who don't have a functioning organ, it's risky, expensive, and is plagued by a host of ethical questions. It's reckless to pay an enormous amount of money to undergo a non-life-saving surgery that could likely have severe implications for the woman and her future babies for a temporary womb when safer options — such as adoption — exist.
Progressive narrative, as provided by Huffington Post. While this is undoubtedly a milestone, the UK's first womb transplant can't be termed a complete success until it also benefits trans women, who are entitled to equal treatment under the Gender Equality Act. There's much more work for the medical fraternity to do before it can ensure that the procedure is safe and effective and can reach thousands of women, including trans women.
Conservative narrative, as provided by National Review. Before transgender activists start questioning the medical fraternity for not doing enough research or limiting access to the procedure, they must take into account the hormonal and anatomical considerations that describe why they can't experience gestation and birth. Making such rare procedures a matter of social justice would only lead to social anarchy and chaos.