Uterus Transplants: A New Field of Fertility Techonologies
In Turkey, on August 9, 2011 a woman named Derya Sert, became the first recipient of a successful uterus transplant. Though two previous attempts have been made, both organs were rejected. Yet Derya Sert, after only two and a half months, is menstruating with her new uterus, and is looking forward to having a baby through IVF, in-vitro fertilization.
This opportunity is truly an incredible new option towards pregnancy and the production of a baby. One in about 5,000 women is born without a uterus, and therefore depends on adoption or surrogacy in order to have a baby, both very expensive legal ordeals wrought with numerous risks.
While I think a woman having the ability to become pregnant and go through the birth process is great, it’s interesting to imagine and see the affect this will have on surrogacy and donors. Here is a quick rundown of the issues and questions at hand:
Uterus transplants vs. surrogacy
Uterus transplants could become cheaper than surrogacy, a notoriously expensive and lengthy procedure in it’s own right. A uterus transplant be valued over surrogacy in societal acceptance, since surrogacy is still considered taboo, even illegal in a handful of countries including Sweden, France and Iceland. Not only that, but uterus transplants could pose less risks than surrogacy.
Who would be the donors?
Would or could they always be deceased? Deceased donors are the most likely option at first, but it would be interesting to see if uterus transplants could become a commodified business. It may also eventually extend to women who do not want to have children, willingly donating their uteri to women like Derya Sert who are born without them. I wonder if we will see certain nationalities of women favored over others, or if discrimination would even apply, as selection of egg and sperm donors often favor certain aspects of a donor’s social and/or genetic background. This presents several ethical quandaries.
Feasibility of IVF
This time is incredibly exciting in the field or fertility technology. Derya Sert has already begun menstruating, but will her eggs and IVF treatments take to her transplanted uterus? Theoretically they should, but only time will tell. It truly is amazing to me how IVF and furthering fertility technologies are changing family structures and yet maintaining them at the same time. IVF has allowed for barren wives and infertile husbands to have families, as well as gay families, and mothers who do not have the ability to produce their own eggs.
I personally cannot wait to keep reading about Derya Sert’s updates and the cultural influence of medical technologies in Turkey. Transplants offer an entirely new opportunity to women who either have no uteri or have a damaged uterus due to a traumatic event. I am thoroughly excited for the upcoming prevalence of uterus transplants, and seeing their effect on society and family structures today, and how the advent of uterus donors will complicate the transplantation conversation.