In an experiment to see whether transplanted wombs could allow women without a uterus to give birth, nine women in Sweden who have received wombs from live donors are hoping to be the first to bear children.
"This is a new kind of surgery," Dr. Mats Brannstrom told The Associated Press. "We have no textbook to look at."
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Two previous transplants never resulted in babies. So far, the transplanted wombs seem to be functioning: Some of the women had their periods, a likely signal of a healthy uterus. The first embryos, which were created from the women's own eggs and frozen before the operation, could be transferred to the wombs within months.
The transplants are intended to be temporary. Because the women must take anti-rejection drugs that can cause side effects such as high blood pressure and diabetes, the wombs will be removed after one or two pregnancies.
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Such a novel use of transplants has caused some ethical questions, however. In Britain, for example, the risk to the donor is considered too great for a non life-threatening procedure.