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Womb transplants could be two years away

By Jane Fazackarley     Oct 22, 2009 in Health
Scientists in Britain say womb transplants could be just two years away from going mainstream. The new development could offer new hope to women who are unable to have children.
The experts, based in London, said they are now able to transplant a womb which has a consistent supply of blood. This means the blood supply will be able to support the full term of a pregnancy.
The research was carried out on rabbits and the results were revealed at a conference about infertility in the United States..
A charity called Uterine Transplant UK is now trying to find £250,000 to support its work because they have been unsuccessful in getting grant money.
The transplants could be used to help women who are unable to conceive because of previous illness or disease such as cervical cancer.
The research was carried out at the Royal Veterinary College. During the trials, five rabbits underwent a womb transplant. The operation also found a way to include the vital blood vessels which are needed to carry the pregnancy.
Some of the rabbits only survived to 10 months old but research carried out afterward showed the surgery was a success.
If the transplants were to be carried out then a Caesarean would need to be performed at birth and the conception would be made by IVF.
Research has been carried out on other animals before and a human transplant was also performed in 2000. The transplant did not prove to be successful and researchers indicate it was because the technique to connect the blood vessels had not been perfected.
The womb transplant would only be implanted for the length of time it takes for a woman to have children.
Despite the promising new treatment, experts say the news should be received cautiously.
Tony Rutherford, who is chairman for the British Fertility Society said to the BBC, "I think there is a big difference between demonstrating effectiveness in a rabbit and being able to do this in a larger animal or a human."
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