21-year-old woman undergoes India’s first uterus transplant

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In what is still a very rare procedure around the world, and the first such to be performed in the country, doctors at a hospital in Pune have performed the first uterus transplant on a 21-year-old woman.

21-year-old woman undergoes India’s first uterus transplant

The young woman who suffers from congenital absence of the uterus since birth, which rendered her incapable of conceiving, was operated on to transplant her 44-year-old mother's organ to her, in a procedure conducted on Thursday.

According to the team of doctors, both the mother and daughter were in good health following the procedure but the complete success of the surgery will only be possible to be determined if the organ functions normally and the recipient is able to conceive.

Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, who performed the surgery along with a team of 11 other doctors reportedly said, "The surgery has been successful. The condition of the recipient and donor is stable. Another 48 hours will be crucial in determining the outcome of the surgery."

The surgery was performed at the Pune's Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute (GCLI) and began at half past noon and lasted around nine hours. According to the doctors, they retrieved the donor's uterus by using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery, which helped reduce the duration of the procedure by nearly three hours from the normal 12 hours.

If the procedure is a complete success, the patient would be able to conceive through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and deliver through a caesarian section. But will have to continue to take immuno-suppressant drugs for the rest of her life to prevent her body from rejecting the uterus.

Dr Puntambekar reportedly said, "The success of the transplant can be assessed after a month when the recipient will undergo sonography and other tests to ensure the fitted uterus is functioning properly or not."

The first such procedure was performed in Sweden in 2012 and the patient gave birth to the world's first baby from a transplanted uterus in 2014, and was conducted by Dr Mats Brännström, who had reportedly criticised the Indian procedure for its lack of proper preparation and for the risk that it would put both donor and receiver at. He reportedly added, "What is planned in Pune is a dangerous escapade of surgical cowboys wanting to be the first in their country and to get publicity and fame easy."

On the risks of such a surgery, he pointed at the recipient's death following a similar procedure conducted two months ago in China by the country's top laparoscopy surgeon.

According to Dr Puntambekar, his team had travelled to Sweden to learn the transplant procedure and practised on human cadavers in Germany and the US. But Dr Brännström reportedly said that his own team had practised on various live animals for 15 years before taking their first human case, which has been totally ignored by the Indian doctors. "That is the great difference. We advise all groups around the world to choose one large animal for team and surgery training," he reportedly added.

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