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India’s 1st Womb Transplant Hospital Sees A Rush of New Patients

Out of the 11 successful uterus transplant cases worldwide, only 6 cases have successfully delivered a baby.

Published
Health News
3 min read

Over 40 new patients have registered at the Pune hospital where India’s first uterus transplant was performed.

The Galaxy Hospital says it has patients lined up from across India, with some even from London and Ireland keen on getting the transplant immediately.

But given the minuscule success rate worldwide, and the first two patients yet to cross the 21 day rejection period, is signing on new patients a good idea? Or even ethical?

Pune’s Galaxy Care hospital came into international limelight recently when it performed India’s first uterine transplant on two women on 18th and 19th of May. In both cases, mothers had come forward to donate the organ to their daughters.

After two weeks, both the patients are now recovering and their bodies have shown no sign of rejection of the foreign organ.

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Dr Sailesh Puntambekar, who led the surgery, sounds confident.

First rejection takes place in 24 hours – there are no signs of rejection. Then the doctor took a biopsy a few days later and that was also clear. At the third stage, at 21 days, we will be repeating the biopsy and if there is no rejection, then the (chance of) rejection of the organ is less than 2 percent.
Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, Medical Director, Galaxy Care Hospital

Experiencing Motherhood

Both patients, one from Maharashtra and the other from Gujarat, couldn’t conceive naturally.

One of them, due to a missing uterus in her body, and the other due to several abortions and failed pregnancies. Adoption and surrogacy weren’t really options for them.

We spoke about options but Meenakshi (a patient) was clear she wanted to experience motherhood.
Meenakshi’s husband
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First Laparoscopic Retrieval

For Dr Shailesh Puntambekar and his team of 14 doctors, it’s a massive achievement.

They’ve performed world’s first laparoscopic retrieval of the uterus. Lack of cadavers in India meant the doctor spent four months practicing the retrieval in Turkey.

While the first step of the transplant is over, that wait for the child of her own will take a while.

We have frozen the embryos. She has to get her menses, and after a year embryos will be transferred via IVF and the delivery will be cesarean. She will have to be monitored throughout.
Dr Milind Telang

Low Success Rate

Out of the 25 surgeries conducted worldwide, only 11 transplant cases have been successful, with the uterus not showing any signs of rejection. And out of these 11, only 6 cases have successfully delivered a baby.

Given this scenario, is it even right for the hospital to take in new patients?

It is an untrodden path. You have to prove it is safe, you have to prove the woman starts menstruating, you have to prove what kind of uterine function will it perform, if it is only meant for conception, then it is an alternative to IVF. All these parameters have to be serially examined, before you go ahead with more.
Dr Arun Gadre, Gynecologist
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The doctors in Pune say that each patient will go through a detailed process including psychological counseling, medical tests and clearances at a governmental committee level before they are cleared for surgery.

They also say that the cost of the non vital organ transplant will be less than that of a kidney transplant which costs around Rs 10 lakh.

But till a successful birth happens through this method in India, signing on new patients or calling it a success is risky.

(Prachee Kulkarni has worked as a broadcast journalist for the last 8.5 years. She was previously associated with Ibn Lokmat and can be reached @prachikulkarni)

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