National / Science & Health

Keio University submits research plan with goal of performing Japan’s first womb transplants

JIJI

A Keio University team hopes to carry out Japan’s first clinical research into transplanting wombs to women who do not have the organ, according to sources.

The team submitted the research plan to the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology on Wednesday, asking for its input. The society will start discussions on ethical and safety aspects.

The plan was produced by the team led by Iori Kisu, specially appointed assistant professor at the university.

Under the plan, five women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuester-Hauser syndrome, which caused them to be born without wombs, would receive operations to transplant wombs donated by their mothers or sisters. The team would inject drugs to suppress the women’s immune systems to avoid rejection responses, and put externally fertilized frozen eggs back into the wombs so that the women can become pregnant.

Womb transplant operations have already been carried out in some areas in the United States and Europe, resulting in successful pregnancies. So far no such operations have been conducted in Japan.

Issues that need to be examined include the effects of drugs to suppress the immune system on fetuses in wombs, risks to those who donate wombs and whether it is appropriate to receive organs despite not suffering from a life-threatening disease.