While Prof Ozkan, the doctor who performed the first successful womb transplant, clearly has an interesting method (implanting wombs from dead donors), it is still tragic that a young woman with so much hope lost her child. The Daily Mail provides a detailed look into the process and where it may have gone wrong:
A woman who was the first to have a successful womb transplant from a dead donor has had her pregnancy terminated after the embryo showed no heartbeat, doctors in Turkey have said.
Derya Sert, 22, who was born without a womb, had been receiving in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment after the transplant in August 2011.
Her pregnancy was announced in April.
But in a statement released today by Akdeniz University Hospital in Turkey’s Mediterranean city of Antalya, it read: ‘Derya Sert’s pregnancy was terminated after her end of eight weeks examination showed no embryo heartbeat.
‘The general health status of the patient is fine.
‘IVF will be continued when she is ready, in appropriate conditions.’
Thousands of British women born without a womb were given hope if the breakthrough treatment succeeded.
But some British experts, including Lord Winston, claim that a pregnancy could cause potentially fatal complications.
The baby would have to be born by caesarean, which carries the risks of surgery.
Prof Ozkan performed the pioneering transplant on 22-year-old Derya Sert in August 2011.
Prof Ozkan, from Akdeniz University in Antalya, Turkey, also revealed three more women were to undergo transplants at his clinic, providing Mrs Sert has a healthy baby.
Mrs Sert, who is married to husband Mustafa, said at the time of the transplant: ‘If I had a magic wand, I would want to be pregnant now. I just want to hold my baby in my arms, to be a mother.’
One in every 5,000 women globally is born without a womb, while thousands more have the organ removed due to cancer or other diseases, leaving them unable to get pregnant.
TV presenter Yvette Fielding revealed in 2009 that she had undergone a hysterectomy to stop her agonising periods.
Fielding already has two children. However, many women are childless when they have the drastic surgery.
Those in favour of womb transplants argue it is the only way to meet the desperate desire of many of these women to ‘carry’ their own baby.
This need cannot be met if they use another woman as a surrogate, a controversial process that is strictly regulated in the UK and illegal in some countries, including France and Germany.
Many British couples end up travelling to India, where clinics hire out women as surrogates.
However, this is fraught with legal issues. For example, couples whose surrogate children are born abroad have to go to court in the UK to ‘prove’ they are the legal parents.
Adoption does not give a woman the chance to have a child who is genetically her own and, again, there is a strict vetting procedure.
Surgeon Richard Smith, a consultant at Imperial College London, has spent more than 15 years researching the possibility of pregnancy among women who have had womb transplants.
Last year he revealed his team had achieved the first successful pregnancy in a rabbit with a transplanted uterus, although the animal went on to miscarry.
He planned to carry out the procedure on five more rabbits before it is trialled in sheep.
Only then will Mr Smith approach UK ethics committees for approval to try it on humans.
Women who have lost their wombs to cancer need to have been free of the disease for at least five years before they can be considered for a transplant.
But womb transplants have been criticised by experts because they are not carried out to ‘save a life’.
Risks include rejection of the new womb and potential side effects during pregnancy from the powerful anti-rejection drugs.
After the first womb transplant, carried out in Saudi Arabia in 2000, the donated organ ‘failed’ after three months because the blood vessels used to connect it were too narrow and became blocked by clots.
However, Prof Ozkan does not doubt womb transplants are worth the risks for thousands of women otherwise unable to have a ‘normal’ pregnancy.
He has previously said: ‘Many people think that womb transplants aren’t necessary because they’re not lifesaving operations and that women have the option of adoption or surrogacy.
‘But we’ve had applications from women all over the world wanting womb transplants. This is absolutely necessary for these women: you just have to ask them to realise this.’
A total of 100 women were screened last year by Prof Ozkan in addition to Mrs Sert, who received her healthy organ from a car-crash victim.
Ten of these have been selected as possible recipients.
Prof Ozkan could have a race on his hands to become the first doctor to achieve a successful pregnancy from a womb transplant.
Swedish experts carried out two procedures last year, both involving the world’s first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.
Prof Ozkan’s Turkish team used wombs from dead donors.
The scientists and doctors at the University of Gothenburg had received approval to complete ten procedures in total.
Doctors are divided over whether to use living or dead donors. Some experts are uncomfortable with taking the womb from a living woman when it is not for life-saving reasons.
With live transplants, there are risks to two living patients. However, an organ from a living donor can be a better match.
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