January 13, 2014

Are womb transplants controversial?

Because they are not needed to save a life and unlike transplanted hands and faces — which are not life-saving but improve life — are not even permanent. They are installed for the temporary purpose of enabling a woman to become pregnant and to give birth. And the donors are living — relatives of the woman who wants to bear a child.
The transplant operations did not connect the women's uteruses to their fallopian tubes, so they are unable to get pregnant naturally. But all who received a womb have their own ovaries and can make eggs. Before the operation, they had some removed to create embryos through in-vitro fertilization. The embryos were then frozen and doctors plan to transfer them into the new wombs, allowing the women to carry their own biological children.

86 comments:

cubanbob said...

Depends on who is paying the freight.

EDH said...

Is there any reason men can't have this operation and give birth?

Larry Davis said...

A bridge too far!

Strelnikov said...

I don't get the complaint. What's the beef? It's not fair to third world women who cannot afford the surgery?

madAsHell said...

From the pantheon of dumb ideas...

Ambrose said...

Sounds like another marvel of modern science to me. Who is complaining?

Sorun said...

Why just women? I might want to have a baby too.

Bob Boyd said...

Maybe you're better off just taking a pill.

Sorun said...

It's now LGBTQIAW. W is men with wombs.

LGBTQIA is so 2013.

EDH said...

"Keep the government out of my man-womb!"

Scott M said...

A near-useless in-between step to exowomb normality and considering the gestation of one's own offspring as barbaric?

Inga said...
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Inga said...
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Bob R said...

I believe that the government should keeps its nose out of anything that makes a bioethicist furrow his brow in concern. (It's always "his," isn't it?)

Inga said...

Amazing and fascinating. If the donor doesn't need or want her uterus anymore and the recipient wants to give birth to her own children, it shouldn't be controversial. The recipient has a higher chance of miscarriage perhaps, but if the anti-rejection drugs are safe for the baby and blood flow to the uterus is good, it seems the chances are pretty good for giving birth.

Men, go for it! However you will have to take a lot of hormones and find an egg donor. Your sperm will have to be taken way before you start the hormone regime and frozen, so as to make sure you have some sperm with all those female hormones in your system at the time of implantation.

Another thought about men and implanted uteri. It would be the culmination of women's evil plan to feminize the world's males!


n.n said...

How is it possible that no one predicted this progress? This is why addressing the issues on their merits is critical. The homosexual cause is a distraction. The women's rights cause is a distraction. In the first case, the marginalization or nullification of natural laws must be addressed. In the second case, the devaluation of human life must be addressed. We know the issues. We can reasonably predict technological progress. In order to manipulate political leverage, we have abstained from rational arguments in lieu of emotional appeals.

Whatever. Let's go along to get along and enjoy the ensuing chaos. It seems that modern society is less capable of confronting and addressing the risks of evolutionary change than people who lived several thousand years earlier.

Alex said...

Is nothing sacred anymore? I'm surprised at Americans' casual attitude towards surgery. Oh and this will definitely lead to an increase in kidnapping for organ harvesting amongst the poorer populations.

Illuninati said...

It is hard to imagine that the antirejection drugs are not teratogenic. If the children born in a transplanted uterus are developmentally delayed or have a low IQ who will take responsibility?

Deirdre Mundy said...

It seems like way too much risk/work... why not adopt instead?

Chef Mojo said...

Wouldn't adoption make a lot more sense?

Alex said...

Because too many women MUST.ABSOLUTELY.CONCEIVE.THEIR.OWN.CHILD.OR.IT.DESTROYS.THEIR.SELF.ESTEEM.

There, now you have it.

netmarcos said...

@Deirdre & mojo, have you tried adopting? Trust me on this, it's a lot more complex than some would have you believe.

Inga said...

A bit simplistic, but does answer the question fairly well about the risks of anti rejection drugs on the baby.

EDH said...

You are what you do. A man is defined by his actions, not his memory...

Open your mind, open your mind.

netmarcos said...
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dbp said...

If I was a woman, I would much rather bear a child as a surrogate than donate my uterus.

I can see why a woman would want to bear her own child though. It may well be worth the pain and trouble of surgery followed by anti-rejection drugs.

MayBee said...

I have a friend who recently got an organ transplant, and it was grueling. It will take over a year for her wounds to heal and she must take anti rejection drugs for the rest of her life.

I'm trying to think of a transplanted womb being strong enough to hold a pregnancy and the body not struggling with the anti rejection medicine and the pregnancy.

Inga said...

The risk to the donor is probably far less donating her uterus than carrying, giving birth and then giving up the baby she carried for nine months.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Netmarcos-- no, but I know a lot of adoptive families, and while it's a long haul, major surgery+transplant meds+ complications? Seems like a bad trade-off.

And, lets be honest. Even a kid who comes from your own DNA and gestates in your own womb may not turn out exactly as you expected or hoped....

I worry about the psychological states of prospective parents willing to take on this much unnecessary suffering in pursuit of perfect. What happens when the child, as children are wont to do, turns out to be someone completely unplanned for?

Alex said...

Why not adopt? There are literally hundreds of billions of bouncing healthy babies just waiting for a happy yuppie couple to adopt them!

RoBanJo said...

Inconceivable!

Bob Boyd said...

Why can't they implant the fertilized egg into a pig? Cheaper than a surrogate mom, cheaper and safer than a womb transplant.
Plus when you're done you get good stuff like bacon, sausage, pork chops. You could have a nice ham on the kid's first birthday, invite people over. Who doesn't like ham?
In fact, that's what got me thinking about this, ham and eggs is what I had for breakfast. I'm sure there are details to be worked out and all that. I'm more of a big picture guy.

dbp said...

The mortality rate from a hysterectomy is around ten times higher than found in normal pregnancy. Confounding factors could be that normally there is some health reason for a hysterectomy and the mortality rate would be less in an organ donor setting.

"Four hundred seventy-seven deaths were recorded among 317,389 women having abdominal hysterectomies and 46 deaths among 119,972 women having vaginal hysterectomies" --Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1985 Aug 1;152(7 Pt 1):803-8.
The mortality risk associated with hysterectomy.
Wingo PA, Huezo CM, Rubin GL, Ory HW, Peterson HB.

The mortality from normal pregnancy is something like 13 per 100,000.

Certainly, the recovery time for a hysterectomy would be less than 9-months, but it is not as if the whole term of pregnancy is debilitating.

Inga said...

Bob Boyd, well if the baby looks as cute as this one, then sure, why not?

Peter said...

With credentiallism increasing with out end, and the expectation that women will have a career and not just a mere job, the age of first birth goes up and up. Can technology just fix that, or are we headed for a future USA with birth rates similar to those of Japan?

Of course, we could just import our babies. Just as we import most of our consumer goods. After all, someone will have to be here to pay back the national debt, and pay taxes to support the welfare state- kinda hard to do that with a shrinking populaton.

Why would anyone think this is unsustainable, that perhaps we are headed toward Darwinian oblivion? Can't we just deny biology, and pretend one can "have it all"?

Inga said...

Dbp, your data is a bit old, 1985, anything more recent? That's almost 30 years ago. There have been pretty big strides in surgery in the last 30 years.

Bob Boyd said...

porkid

Inga said...

Dpd,
Maternal Mortality rate has doubled in the last 25 years

dbp said...

Inga,

Most of the literature is pretty focused on mortality associated with this condition or that so it is hard to suss-out overall rates. Still, it is doubtful that outcomes have improved by a factor of 10 in 30 years.

Further, additional risks would be associated with the transplantation: 1. The surgery would be more complex than a simple hysterectomy since it would defeat the purpose if the organ was destroyed in the process. 2. For each uterus there would be two operations since it has to be removed from one woman and then implanted into another--each would face surgical risk. 2.1 The recipient would likely have the implant removed once she has carried all the children she wants since otherwise she would need to take anti-rejection drugs for life. So this would be a third operation with attendant risks. 3. The pregnancy in a woman with a transplant is almost certainly at higher risk than in a woman who has her own uterus.

Pogo is Dead said...

Mandatory contraception coverage and womb transplants.

Women seem a bit indecisive, no?

Step on the gas!
No, the brake!
No, the gas!
Brake!

Inga said...

Effects of hysterectomy, data from 2013.

Yes certainly the risks of a pregnancy in a transplanted uterus would be higher, but you and I were discussing risks of pregnancy and birth in general as compared to risks of hysterectomy, no?

Inga said...
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Inga said...

Pogo, how's the weather in the Underworld?

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Not used to kill a baby, so therefore ghoulish.

President-Mom-Jeans said...
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Patrick said...

Eff it. Lets just go with the whole alphabet.We'll figure out what it means later.

Michael K said...

Good grief !

dbp said...

Inga,

That is a valid point about the risk to the other woman, but even your linked study gives:

"Hysterectomy associated mortality rate is estimated to be 0.4%"

The maternal mortality per pregnancy is only about 0.01% so being a uterus doner is still more risky than being a surrogate mother.

tim in vermont said...
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Inga said...

It appears so dbp, but what of the psychological harm in giving up a baby after carrying it for 9 monhs, especially if the child is her biological child she would need to part with. If the child is isn't hers, but she's merely carrying the biological parent's baby, I suppose it wouldn't be as difficult giving it up after giving birth. Either way donor womb or surrogate womb, those childless couples must truly be desperate for a child.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Inga-- I can't imagine giving up a donor baby would be any easier... I mean, it's not like you run DNA test on your kid in utero.

OTOH-- I imagine the type of woman who agrees to be a surrogate is probably less attached to her babies than usual....

Inga said...

Dierdre, as for me, I think giving up a biological child after 9 months would be more difficult than giving up the biological parent's baby. Could be I'm too attached to my own DNA.

n.n said...

The controversy with any organ market, and, in fact, any effort to reduce a human being to the sum of her parts, is that it devalues human life, while increasing its commodity value as a disposable, interchangeable, and separable clump of cells.

That said, with the normalization of abortion, the value of human life has already been thoroughly degraded. This is only controversial for people who fear being dismembered and redistributed by the state for reason of the greater good or to satisfy the demand of people who have less means or more power. It's the Marxist doctrine to employ coercion to ensure compliance. People have cause to be afraid.

Fen said...

Inga: Could be I'm too attached to my own DNA.

Careful. You're very close to realizing that the fetus carries the male DNA too.

Next step is giving us rights over what is done with our DNA.

Can't have that.

MadisonMan said...

It is hard to imagine that the antirejection drugs are not teratogenic

This has been studied, I'm sure, on people who have received other donors and subsequently fallen pregnant.

MadisonMan said...

(sigh)

Other donated organs, not other donors ;)

MadisonMan said...

I think more controversy would arise if you develop a market in wombs from women in poor countries selling off their parts to "relatives"

dbp said...

I imagine it would be sad to give up a child you have carried, even if it is not genetically related.

Some stories I have come across indicated that surrogate mothers sometimes form a bond with the genetic parents and are sad, knowing that it is coming to an end or at least will be greatly diminished going forward.

Inga said...

Fen, get a womb. Then you can have rights over the DNA it contains before it's born. It's too bad, but until men carry the child, that's the way it is.

Inga said...

Oh... And Fen, don't be a splooge stooge.

Fen said...

Nope. Its my DNA too. It's too bad the female has to carry the child, that's the way it is.

Inga said...

Yes Fen, it IS your DNA, but you have no legal rights over it before its born. It's the woman's choice as to what happens to your and her DNA. So as we Here a Althouse discussed last summer, choose wisely as to who you spill your DNA into.

Bob Ellison said...

Well,I know a few women who have created babies. They seem mostly proud of their acts, and rightly so.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Inga said...
Yes Fen, it IS your DNA, but you have no legal rights over it before its born.

That just seems wrong. It must be a total encapsulation logic. So if a female drug mule inserts a vial of cocaine into her vagina, it become hers?

If a man inserts his penis into a woman, does it become hers or not because of prior attachment?

Have these questions been litigated?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Has the precise moment of a man's rights to his DNA been litigated? I thought only viability had. It's interesting to think of that magic moment when the rights transfer in utero.

El Pollo Raylan said...

And while we can squabble over whether men or exclusively women have rights to the unborn, it's still unclear when the third party has rights.

Inga said...

It's the law. It's not my idea. The fetus most certainly has half of the male's DNA, but it's the law that he has no rights as to what happens to it in utero. Has anyone gotten custody of an unborn child yet?

EMD said...

Why not just use a brain dead woman? They're just state-sponsored baby-making husks.

Too soon?

n.n said...

EMD:

You're attempting to establish an equivalence which denies or selectively assigns value to a human life. This fails according to both the viability and intrinsic value model.

Three questions. Was she brain dead before or after conception? Is the baby hers or was it implanted? Do you support harvesting organs and other products?

You do realize that there is not only a qualitative, but also a quantitative difference between aborting one million human lives annually, and the exceptional circumstance of sustaining a body when a mother dies during pregnancy, right?

That said, when does a human life acquire and lose value? When is it acceptable to exploit a human life for money, sex, or ego? Do you subscribe to a Marxist philosophy which states that a stable state can be established through coercion, including genocide?

You do realize why a population control protocol is so desired by the Left, right? Their war on poverty was only an excuse. Do you agree with their objective to cull certain ethnic and economic classes in order to improve their own, and children's, enjoyment of life? This is the motive which underlies all of their "good" intentions.

n.n said...

EMD:

Do you acknowledge that there is a material difference between evolution from conception and following death?

Do you believe that there is life after death?

Do you agree that there is a difference between harvesting a body for distribution and sustaining it as an integral environment for a developing human life during pregnancy?

Pogo is Dead said...

Feminism means never having to say you're sorry.

Kill babies or make them on borrowed uteri, what difference at this point does it make?

Smilin' Jack said...

"Are womb transplants controversial?"
Because they are not needed to save a life....


What? Of course they are. Those frozen embryos aren't just frozen embryos, they're human life. Or, as Republicans put it: HYOO-MAN LYE-EEFE!!!

Inga said...

Pogo, so morose.

n.n said...

Evolution is a continuous, if not necessarily a differentiable process. The demand for exotic treatments to conceive life is poorly considered. If nature has seen fit to corrupt reproductive ability, then would be parents can choose to be guardians of adopted children.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Transfer the American womb to believers.

All we have today are vast doubteries.

Accomplishing feces.

Hence, henceforth we achieve without reservation in molds approaching shadows of images of the certainly one and only Williliam Frank Buckley Jr.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Steve Jobs fucks up my spelling again and I swear to God.

William Frank Buckley Jr.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I trust you all saw American Digest and Gerard's recent post on the sideline of the sign language sign for abortion.

It is what you want it to be.

Pro killing or pro life, the sign bridged the gap between the factions and showed the shoeing aside.

This small truth.

gadfly said...

We need to perfect this medical procedure in order for the world to better prepare for the next catastrophe expected to wipe out humans- like a nuclear holocaust, microbiological epidemic, natural geological disruptions or the sure-fire extreme anthropogenic climate change, albeit heat, cold or any of these listed conditions.

rhhardin said...

Hysteria transplants are next.

Fen said...

Yes Fen, it IS your DNA, but you have no legal rights over it before its born.

I do. The case just hasn't made its way to SCOTUS yet.

It's the woman's choice as to what happens to your and her DNA...choose wisely as to who you spill your DNA into.

Do you not see the contradiction in your own argument? How does your head not explode?

Fen said...

Equal protection under the law - men deserve the same post-coitus rights that women have.

That includes the right to a financial abortion - if she wants to have the kid and he doesn't, fine. But he doesn't have to support it financially.

gerry said...

So perhaps five in-vitro fertilized eggs are implanted in the womb, and then the easiest ones to get at are aborted when they are no longer needed to ensure that mommy can have at least one live one.

Inga said...

Ha, don't hold your breath, Fen. Not going to happen. That's where that splooge stooge thingie comes into play. Make your deposits selectively based on more than who gives you a boner.

Fen said...

Funny how in your world view, men are responsible for where they put their DNA but women bear no responsibility for accepting that DNA.

Shorter Inga: If you don't want to get pregnant, don't have intercourse.

So, glad to see you are finally on the anti-abortion bandwagon.

But stop flirting with me - your obsession with the word "splooge" is not translating the way you think. Its not gonna happen.

Inga said...

Fen, "flirting"? LOL. I'm old enough to be your Mama. And besides you're NOT my type. Just consider me a kind Aunt who is giving you good advice.

EMD said...

This place needs a sarcasm font.