Doctor planning risky womb transplant to allow transgender woman to carry a baby

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A surgeon has told how he is planning the world's first womb transplant on a transgender woman who was born male.

The organs would be taken from a dead donor or from another woman who decided to become a man and had their wombs removed in the process.

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This would mean that the person could fall pregnant through IVF – although the operation has never officially been performed successfully yet.

“Every transgender woman wants to be as female as possible,” said Dr Narendra Kaushik, who runs a busy surgery in new Delhi.

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“And that includes being a mother. The way towards this is with a uterine transplant, the same as a kidney or any other transplant.

“This is the future. We cannot predict exactly when this will happen but it will happen very soon.

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“We have our plans and we are very very optimistic about this.”

Dr Kshuik said that around 20 per cent of his patients are from overseas, with many flying from the UK.

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Doctor planning risky womb transplant to allow transgender woman carry a baby

Dr Narendra Kaushik is planning for the operation ( Image: Adrian Addison)

Business is booming at his Olmec clinic in New Delhi, with the surgeon recently opening a purpose-built centre to meet demand.

It comes as India is now surpassing Thailand as the destination of choice for this kind of surgery.

“Many of our patients tell us that their sexual partners don’t even notice that they weren't born with female sex organs,” said Dr Kaushik.

“And that’s our aim, to make it so that they live as normal a life as possible as a woman. We aim for an aesthetic ideal”

Womb transplants, which cost thousands of pounds, are still considered to be an experimental procedure.

There has only been one well-known case of a trans woman having a uterus transplant – but she died just months later after suffering complications.

It cannot actually connect the woman's uterus to the fallopian tubes, so the op doesn't lead to anyone becoming pregnant naturally.

But experts claim it is theoretically possible to impregnate a trans woman using IVF, with the embryo being implanted.

In 2017, doctors said medical advances mean it's theoretically possible for trans women to give birth after a successful operation.

Doctor planning risky womb transplant to allow transgender woman carry a baby

The surgeon runs a busy clinic ( Image: Adrian Addison)

In 2017, Dr Paulson, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said: “There would be additional challenges, but I don’t see any obvious problem that would preclude it. I think it would be possible.”

Previously Surgeon Christopher Inglefield, founder of the London Transgender Clinic, claimed the procedure is ‘essentially identical’ to that of ‘cis-women’ -aka females born in that gender.

Mr Inglefield said: “This pioneering birth is extremely important for any trans female who would like to carry her own child.

“Because once the medical community accept this as a treatment for cis-women with uterine infertility, such as the congenital absence of a womb, then it would be illegal to deny a trans-female who has completed her transition.

“There are clearly anatomical boundaries when it comes to trans women but these are problems that I believe can be surmounted and the transplant into a trans-female is essentially identical to that of a cis-female.”

Professor Simon Fishel is Britain’s leading fertility expert who was involved in the research that led to the birth of the first 'test-tube baby' Louise Brown in 1978.

“Womb transplants have already been carried out in Denmark, though from one woman to another woman. Never to a man,” he said.

“Now just suppose you can find a spot for the donated womb in a man and create a blood supply and the correct endocrine environment then, theoretically – it is possible.”

“Yes it's strange, but strange things happen” added Professor Fishel.

“I know, for example, of a case whereby the conceiving male used his mother as a surrogate to have his child with a donor egg. So his own mother gave birth to his son… who was also his brother by birth.”

Doctor planning risky womb transplant to allow transgender woman carry a baby

When Jennifer Gobrecht was 17, doctors told her that she would never carry her own child. ( Image: Handout via Kate Graham Freelance)

Professor Robert Winston one of Britain's most famous medical experts thanks to presenting several TV series on the BBC such as Child of Our Time, dubbed the treatment “very dangerous.”

“The problems are huge, it would be a hugely difficult operation,” he said. “And you still don't have a functioning cervix or vagina to allow the birth canal.

“The risk of death to the patient would be very high. Both from the operation to allow the transplantation and also from the pregnancy. It would simply not be ethically acceptable.”

Isabella Thalund, 33, flew from Denmark to Delhi last year to have an operation carried out by Dr Kaushik. While she doesn't want kids herself, she said it is the dream for many.

“For a lot of transgender women, this would definitely be a dream come true,” she said. “Even for people who saved semen before transitioning, the fact they can never undergo motherhood is still a sore point.

Doctor planning risky womb transplant to allow transgender woman carry a baby

Isabella Thalund, 33,visited the clinic last year ( Image: Adrian Addison)

“As to whether it should be made available well, couples and single women can get help with conceiving. I don't really consider this all that much different.

“Just last year we implanted the heart of a pig into a human, just to give this person perhaps a few more years to live.

“There'll definitely be a huge debate and I don't imagine the surgery would be offered in places like the US, for example. But in Asian countries, where regulation isn't as heavy? It could definitely happen there.”

Professor Fishel has spent his entire career helping people have babies and has often been involved in the ethical debate.

“Ethics is a complex issue because, in the end, you're talking about 'whos3 ethics?' Ethics is quite subjective, it might be religious, etc,” he said.

“But people talk about 'rights', don't they. 'I was a man, I'm now a woman. If it's medically safe I have the right to try to have a baby.' The question then comes down to the professionalism of the doctor, and you do get maverick doctors.

“But it would be grossly irresponsible to just shoot this off first in humans without testing it on animals. And that research has not yet, to my knowledge, been done. It's bordering on madness to even try.”

There has only ever been one documented case of a transgender woman having a uterus transplant – but she died from complications just months later.

Danish artist Lili Elbe was the first trans woman to have a womb transplant in 1931 – aged 48, with the hopes she could have children with her fiance.

But she died just three months later after suffering a cardiac arrest brought on by a post-surgical infection.

In 2020, American Jennifer Gobrecht gave birth to a baby boy– after having a womb transplant from a deceased donor.

She was the second in her country and thought to be just the third in the world to give birth after having the procedure

.Jennifer, who found out that she would never be able to carry a baby as a teen, was born without a uterus.

She was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, meaning she had functional ovaries, but an underdeveloped or, in her case, absent uterus.

The groundbreaking procedure to transplant a new uterus into her body allowed Jennifer to experience pregnancy and childbirth and welcome her first baby – named Benjamin – into the world.

At the time, she told the Mirror: “I never thought in a million years that we would be here. For me to be the one who carried our child was an incredible experience, just pure joy. That he was finally here was a miracle.”

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