A Pune hospital is all set to carry out India’s first set of uterine transplants. This much-contested surgery performed across the globe will be performed for the first time in India.
This surgery will attempt to fit three women with wombs of their mothers and a successful womb transplant will allow them to bear their own children.
State’s directorate of health services granted license to Pune’s Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute (GCLI) to carry out uterus transplant.
Globally, around 25 surgeries are attempted, of which less than 10 successful post-transplant pregnancies are known. First one was in Sweden in 2014.
The Pune live donor uterine surgeries are scheduled for May 13 and 14. The GCLI medical director and oncosurgeon Shailesh Puntambekar said it has been a patient wait for them as they wanted to carry out this challenging surgery once they learned about Sweden’s success.
“A meticulous process was followed to choose the three donors and recipients,” he said.
However, with the surgery over a week away, the Pune hospital is likely to beat Bengaluru’s Milann-International Institute for Training and Research in Reproductive Health which also received a green nod from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently to perform a transplant for two women shortlisted of the nine. The fertility centre has tied up with the pioneer of uterus transplant, Dr Mats Bronnstrom of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, to carry out the procedures.
“This is not a one-day work. We have been working on this for past three years. We met the doctors in Sweden who had done the first successful uterus transplant surgery and we learnt what protocols should be followed. We have spent hours to practice how Uterus veins are removed as this is a very delicate procedure,” he said.
While one of the three Pune candidates has a congenital absence of uterus, another one has scarring (adhesions) of uterus (Asherman’s syndrome) and the third woman’s uterus was removed due to cancer three years ago. The donors are their own mothers and the first transplants are going to be conducted for free.
“There are a number of girls who don’t have uterus due to failed uterus or either they were removed during a cancer treatment or a girl born without a uterus. They all have equal right to bear their own child. If a lady has decided to have her own child, then who are we to stop her from doing so? We are not competing with anybody here, we are just providing her an option with new available technology,” said Puntambekar.
Considered as an expert in laparoscopic pelvic surgery and gynaecological cancer surgery in the world, Dr Puntambekar has developed laparoscopic radical hysterectomy for cancer cervix known across the world as the “Pune Technique”. Since last few years, his lectures on Pelvic Anatomy have been widely acknowledged for newer concepts. For carrying out this surgery for the first in the country, he says he is well-prepared for the task.
A team of 12 doctors, they are specialised in different fields of medicine. Every morning at 8, they assemble and discuss the procedure in length.
“We have been doing this for years now. In India, we are going to perform this for the first time and we are prepared for the task,” Dr Puntambekar.
With the three women volunteering for the operation, it will be conducted for free.
A patient’s mother or sister can be a uterus donor. Age of the donor should not be more than 55 years and the donor should be infraction-free.
“We have received tremendous support from the government. A team of doctors had a close look at our hospital and its infrastructure. The team had stayed in our hospital for over a month to make sure that everything is in place before granting us a permission to carry Uterus transplant procedure,” the doctor informed.
About uterine transplant
It is a surgical procedure whereby a healthy uterus is transplanted in the woman whose uterus is absent or diseased. A diseased or absent uterus prohibits normal embryonic implantation, thereby rendering a woman infertile. This phenomenon is known as absolute uterine factor infertility (AUFI). Uterine transplant is a potential treatment for this form of infertility.
In Turkey, on 9 August 2011, world’s first uterus transplant from a deceased donor was conducted by a team of doctors at Akdeniz University Hospital in Antalya. The 21-year-old Turkish woman, Derya Sert, who had been born without a uterus, was the first woman in history to receive a womb from a deceased donor.
In October 2014, it was announced that for the first time, a healthy baby had been born to a uterine transplant recipient, at an undisclosed location in Sweden. The British medical journal The Lancet reported that the baby boy had been born in September, weighing 1.8 kg (3.9 lb) and that the father had said his son was “amazing”.