Here is your daily dose of futuristic medical news: The AP reports that after a decade of research, doctors in Sweden have successfully transplanted wombs from living donors into 9 women.
Some of the patients had lost their uterus to cancer, while others were born without. Each received a uterus donated from a relative, which might be the only thing more intimate than your mom serving as your surrogate.
It's an accomplishment, but the next hurdle is big: actually carrying a pregnancy to term. Researchers in Turkey and Saudi Arabia have already managed womb transplants, but not babies; one had to be removed because of a blood clot and in the other, the patient miscarried.
The docs at the University of Gothenburg didn't hook the transplanted uteri up to the recipients' fallopian tubes. Instead, doctors harvested eggs before the surgery, for in-vitro fertilization. Now they'll relocate those embryos, and wait. Even if they're successful, the transplanted organs max out at two pregnancies.
Doctors in the U.K. are also working on womb transplants, but they're taking a different tack, using only uteruses from dead or dying donors. That's because donating is a little more complicated than giving a kidney:
He said a womb transplant was like a radical hysterectomy but it requires taking a bigger chunk of the surrounding blood vessels to ensure adequate blood flow, raising the risk of complications for the donor. Smith said British officials don't consider it ethical to let donors take such chances for an operation that isn't considered life-saving.
Obviously this would be a big medical advancement if it works, but for now, the procedure's future is a big, fat question mark: "What remains to be seen is whether this is a viable option or if this is going to be confined to research and limited experimentation," the director of an "Assisted Conception unit" at a London hospital told the AP.
One thing's for sure, though: insurance companies are just going to love it.