‘Uterus transplant to give recipient a chance at experiencing menstruation, childbirth’

Gynaecologist Dr Neeta Warty, the only doctor from Mumbai in the 12-member team that performed India’s first uterus transplant, said the ground-breaking procedure was a risk worth taking

Uterus transplant: 'Recipient, who never experienced menstruation, expressed desire to feel like a woman'

Nearly forty eight hours have gone by since the first uterus transplant was carried out on a 21-year-old Solapur woman in Pune. Giving an update on the patient’s progress, Dr Neeta Warty told My Medical Mantra, “We have reviewed the recipient’s condition and she is stable. The transplanted uterus looks stable.” The Mumbai gynaecologist was part of the 12-member team that performed India’s first uterus transplant on (Thursday) May 18.

“We are glad that post-surgery things are going as per the plan. It could take anywhere between a few weeks to two months for her to get have her first menstrual cycle. If all goes well, within six to eight months, she should be to conceive and carry her own baby,” she added.

The uterus transplant surgery has invited ethical debates, especially from medical fraternity. The main argument against the procedure has been since it is not a life-saving surgery, risking a woman’s life is not appropriate. In response to this point of view, Dr Warty said, “Can you question the urge and right of a woman to bear her own child?”

“There won’t be progress without challenges. For example, we wouldn’t have gone on the moon, had we not taken a risk,” said Dr Warty.

Another argument against the surgery is that doctors have made uterus transplant an experimental procedure. They suggested that alternatives such as surrogacy or adoption are better than transplanting the organ. Dr Warty concurred that every choice has ‘its own set of pros and cons’. “Even in surrogacy, you can be risking the life of the surrogate mother,” she said.

‘Uterus transplant to give recipient a chance at experiencing menstruation, childbirth’
Dr Shailesh Putambekar (left) and Dr Neeta Warty (right) from the 12 member team of doctors who participated in the uterus transplant

Dr Warty said rather than debating about the choice, it is important for people to understand the instincts and emotions of a woman. “The 21-year-old, who is our first uterus transplant patient, was born without a uterus. She wanted to have a biological child more than her husband,” she said.

“The young woman had never experienced menstruation and during their counselling sessions, she expressed the desire to feel like a woman,” Dr Warty added.

The Pune team adopted a path-breaking technique to conduct uterus transplants. While all uterus transplants that have been done abroad have been open surgeries, both the transplants done by the team were laparoscopic.

 Talking about the challenges faced by the team, Dr Warty said, “Unlike the uterus transplants done in Sweden, we went in for a complete laparoscopic approach. It helps in minimal handling of the tissues, increases precision of the surgery and reduces the chances of infection.”

Dr Warty was in-charge of starting the procedure on the recipient and making space in her body to transplant the uterus. She said the first case was a bigger challenge as the woman didn’t have a uterus. “Since she was born without the organ, her bladder and large intestine were closer to each other. Making space in her body for the uterus without damaging her organs was quite a difficult task,” she said.

For the record

Interestingly, Dr Warty specialises in removal of large fibroids for which she finds a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records as well as the Limca Book of Records. She is also the only doctor from Mumbai in the team.