It was time to do some writing and let you all know how we are doing, what our plans are and how close we are getting to performing the first womb transplant in the UK. Before all that, Happy 2013 and may it bring you good health, happiness, laughter and plenty of memorable moments. I hope that wherever you may be, you are facing the new year with excitement, confidence and hope!
The end of 2012 left us all feeling extremely excited about what lies ahead. It feels like, for the first time in what appears to be a very protracted decade, that a small chink of light has popped up at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. What has brought this on, I hear you ask? Well, at the end of November 2012, we hosted the 3rd Uterine Transplant UK Conference here in London, an event which was very well received by members of the medical profession, public, press and even women diagnosed with Absolute Uterine Factor Infertility.
All of the four main international teams were there: Sweden (led by Professor Mats Brannstrom), USA (led by Professor Giuseppe Del Priore), Turkey (led by Professor Omer Ozkan) and finally the UK team (led by Mr J. Richard Smith). Two well renowned and internationally celebrated transplant professors who have always been supportive of our efforts and have or will be participating in future human attempts were also in attendance with their teams: Professor Andreas Tzakis (Cleveland Clinic Florida) and Professor Nadey Hakim (Imperial College London). Professor Alex Clarke, our chief Psychologist, also presented her work. The main bit of excitement was regarding Professor Ozkan’s lecture where he described his human attempt (August 2011). The woman is doing well, her womb is demonstrating regular cycles, and 17 months following the procedure, the patient is currently awaiting embryo transfer. The Swedish team then raised the bar even further. They have been granted ethics approval to perform 10 womb transplants in the next 12 months. They have already completed four, with six awaiting. Donation is live, with related donor-recipient pairs. To date, all four donors and recipients are healthy and have fully recovered from the surgery. USA and UK Teams are waiting patiently for their chance to add to the growing number of human womb transplants (six in total: one in 2000, one in 2011 and four in 2012 with six more planned in 2013).
As many of you know our aim is to commence the first five UK human womb transplants between September and December 2014. Until then, our aims are simple but crucial if the above is to happen. We will be completing our research by the summer of this year. All the results will hopefully be published by the end of 2013. Links have already been established with the London Donor Co-ordinators with regards to working out logistics for the human attempt. As you can see from our website, our Advisory Board has been set up and is communicating regularly. In addition to the Advisory Board, we are busy finalising the actual Uterine Transplant UK Team. By this, we mean the team that we will be responsible for looking after the patients going through the whole process i.e. from the initial meeting to hopefully, the delivery of a healthy, term baby.
Parallel to the above, we have commenced a big fundraising drive with the final aim of raising £500,000, a sum we believe is required to perform the first five human transplants here in London. For further details please visit: our donate page. Next year will be taken up by getting Ethics approval from a number of various institutions where we hope to perform our surgeries.
Finally, a big thank you to Miss Kirsty Watkins for setting up the Womb Transplant UK Facebook page
With such support at a grassroot level, the £500,000 target does not seem that insurmountable. Miss Watkins, together with Mrs Laura Boot-Handford and Miss Karina Sasin are all doing their own individual fund-raising event in order to kick-start the campaign. We are extremely grateful for everything that that they are organising and participating in. Please support them on the following pages:
So, until next time, look after yourselves and spread the news.
Dr Srdjan Saso