The surgery is being hailed as the most important fertility treatment breakthrough since IVF

By Alex Heigl
Updated August 27, 2015 11:00 AM
Credit: Maria Cheng/AP Photo

One woman’s womb has linked three generations in Sweden thanks to a progressive surgery being hailed as the most important breakthrough in fertility treatments since in vitro fertilization.

The new mother – who has asked to remain anonymous – lost her own uterus in her 20s and received a transplant from her own mother, allowing her to give birth with the same womb that nurtured her.

“It can’t be described how happy we are,” she told the Associated Press in an exclusive interview nine months after giving birth to her son. “It’s everything that I hoped for and a little bit more.”

The doctor behind the breakthrough, Dr. Mats Brannstrom, has successfully completed the procedure for four births, and a fifth is on the way. (The woman in the interview has given her son the middle name “Mats” as a tribute to their doctor.)

IVF was used to make embryos from the new mother’s eggs and her husbands sperm, and doctors waited a year after the transplant to attempt to transfer the embryos. After four attempts, they succeeded and she later gave birth via cesarean.

“This was impossible until Brannstrom did it,” Dr. Antonio Gargiulo, a specialist in infertility and reproductive surgery at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, told the AP.

He outlined the difficulties inherent in womb transplant – removing a uterus is “unlike any other operation” and the organ must be “very delicately grafted onto the recipient’s major arteries and veins.”

Brannstrom, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Sahlgrenska Hospital at the University of Gothenburg and Stockholm IVF, first transplanted wombs into nine women about two years ago during an experimental study, which included the new mother. Complications forced the removal of two of the transplanted uteruses.

“I sometimes think that I am a part of history,” the woman’s mother said.

Her daughter noted: “The real unique thing is what me and my mom went through. It’s a big thing and [my son] and his grandmother will have this bond for the rest of their lives.”