12/07/2012 10:10 BST | Updated 12/07/2012 10:15 BST

Funding For First Womb Transplant In UK Needed, Say Surgeons

British surgeons are appealing for funds so they can complete research which will lead to the first womb transplants in the UK.

A team of doctors based in London have launched a charity to raise cash to finish the preparatory research and to perform the first five operations.

Scientists are said to be at a "critical stage" in the research and have launched the charity Uterine Transplantation UK to raise £500,000 to complete the final phase of groundwork before performing the surgery.

first uk womb transplant

Womb transplants offer an alternative to surrogacy or adoption for women whose own wombs have been damaged by diseases such as cervical cancer.

Every year 14,000 British women discover they are infertile because either they were born without a viable womb or they have undergone a hysterectomy following a serious illness.


Richard Smith, consultant gynaecological surgeon, and his team have been researching the possibility of transplanting a donor womb into a woman so she can have a child - or even two - before the donated womb is then removed.

This means the recipient would only have to take drugs which make their bodies accept the transplant for a limited period - reducing long term health risks.

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Once the research is complete the scientists can apply for ethics permission.

Mr Smith said: "We are confident, especially with a transplant abroad being carried out with the same methodology that we have recommended that within two years or so, given enough funding, we can begin helping women in the UK.

"Infertility in its various forms is increasing and while IVF can and does help many women, for those who do not want to go the route of surrogacy or adoption, nothing but a transplant can help a woman without a viable womb.

"Quite rightly the UK has the highest level of regulation and safety is paramount and so we have to prove the whole process in several animal models before drawing up the protocols for a human transplant.

"So far we have spent almost half a million pounds - mostly funded by members of the team - on the research up to this point.

"In the US and elsewhere grant aid is much more accessible but in this economic climate with NHS and other budgets being squeezed for understandable reasons, it is much more difficult to raise grants for research in the UK, hence the need for the appeal."

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