• Kyodo

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A Nagoya hospital will set up a project team to consider womb transplants for women born without a uterus or whose uterus has been surgically removed due to cancer or other conditions, the hospital said Wednesday.

While successful uterus transplants have been carried out overseas, the Japanese Red Cross Nagoya No. 2 Hospital is only the second hospital in Japan to take up the issue. Keio University Hospital is reportedly weighing a clinical trial within the year.

Uterus transplants fall outside the scope of other organ transplants under the Organ Transplant Law, which involve life-sustaining organs donated from brain-dead patients. Uterus transplants are solely for the purpose of conceiving and delivering a child.

Some major hurdles remain, including the impact on the health of donors and the potentially negative consequences for the embryo or fetus from immune suppressive agents, which are used to prevent the recipient’s body from rejecting the new organ.

The hospital is expected to study these ethical and safety issues.

In uterus transplant surgery, a womb is removed from a donor and transplanted into the patient. A fertilized egg created from the patient’s egg and her partner’s sperm — through in vitro fertilization — is then placed inside the womb, according to Nobuhiko Suganuma, chair of the Japan Society for Uterine Transplantation.

“There are a lot of women wishing to deliver a baby with their own bodies,” said Suganuma, who is also a professor of regenerative medicine at Kyoto University. “I hope to spur discussions on the issue so that their hopes will come true.”

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