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Japanese researchers compile guidelines for uterus transplants

Kyodo

A research group involving Keio and Kyoto university members on Sunday released guidelines to realize uterus transplants in Japan for women who do not have the organ due to a congenital disease or cancer operation.

While human uterus transplants have been carried out abroad, it is still being tested on animals in Japan.

Under the proposed Japanese guidelines, the donor should make “a voluntary decision” and not feel pressured to offer her uterus.

The group called for a ban on commercial organ donations or commercial brokerage services and pointed to the need to guarantee the rights and welfare of children born through such transplants.

The procedure would open the possibility for women without a uterus to give birth to a child without relying on surrogate mothers, but it is not clear whether safe pregnancy is possible or what kind of impact a transplanted womb would have on babies.

Although 11 uterus transplants have been carried out, in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Sweden, none of the women who received the organ have given birth to a baby yet and thus the impact on the fetus is unknown.

According to the group, people most likely to become uterus donors are relatives of women who do not have the organ, such as their mothers. The researchers also expect women certified as brain dead to become eligible donors in the future.

About 60,000 to 70,000 women in their 20s and 30s in Japan are estimated to suffer from lack of uterus due to congenital absence, or because they had the organ removed as a result of a cancer operation.

Women who receive a transplanted uterus are expected to conceive through impregnation with an egg fertilized in vitro.

The Japanese research group has so far succeeded in making a monkey pregnant after removing its uterus and putting it back. The monkey subsequently gave birth.

The group that compiled the guidelines is expected to seek opinions from societies such as the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.