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It has been confirmed that a uterine transplant, which has few cases in the world, was attempted for the first time in Korea. This is the first time that a uterine transplant has been performed in a domestic hospital. The final success of the surgery has not yet been determined.
According to the hospital community on the 7th, it is known that the uterus transplant team at Samsung Seoul Hospital performed the first uterine transplant in Korea at the end of July. The patient wanted to become pregnant, but it was reported that she was in a state of being unable to conceive because she had a congenital uterus without a uterus. Medical staff are currently monitoring the progress after surgery. In order to determine the success of the surgery, pregnancy and childbirth through the transplanted uterus must occur safely.
Samsung Seoul Hospital established a uterine transplant team last year to try a uterus transplant. Medical staff from 7 departments, including obstetrics and gynecology, transplant surgery, plastic surgery, infectious disease, and anesthesia and pain medicine, participate in the entire process, including pre- and post-operative treatment.
Mothers who have undergone organ transplantation are more likely to have a stillbirth compared to normal childbirth, and the mother’s health status must also be continuously monitored. According to a 2019 U.S. study, only 73% of mothers who received a kidney transplant during organ transplantation had a surviving birth rate. For this reason, uterine transplant surgery requires the participation of related departments such as obstetrics and gynecology in addition to transplant surgery, which performs the operation directly, to review the post-operative process.
There are not many successful cases of uterine transplantation in the world. In 2000, the first woman in her 20s in Saudi Arabia received a uterus transplant from a woman in her 40s, but it had to be removed because of rejection. Since then, surgery has been attempted in several countries, including the United States, but without success. In 2011, Turkish medical staff succeeded in transplantation without initial rejection, but it did not lead to pregnancy.
It has been less than 10 years since the first case of a uterine transplant that succeeded in giving birth came out. In 2014, a woman in her 40s who received a uterus transplant from a woman in her 60s at Gothenburg University Hospital in Sweden succeeded in giving birth for the first time. In the second case, three years later, in 2017, a patient with uterine atrophy succeeded in giving birth with a transplanted uterus in the United States. Since then, about 100 attempts have been made in countries such as the UK, China, and Japan, but only a handful of successful cases have been attempted.
In Korea, which is considered a medical advanced country, uterine transplantation has not been attempted for a long time. In addition to the difficulty of the operation, there are concerns that it may become a legal problem.
The current organ transplantation law does not specify the uterus as a transplantable organ. According to the law, transplanting an organ that is not regulated may be subject to criminal punishment. In fact, in 2017, when a transplant operation was performed on an arm and a leg that is not stipulated by the law at Yeungnam University Hospital, there was a controversy as to whether it was a violation of the law. Since then, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has provided an explanation that the organ transplantation law is not a law against prohibition or punishment, but hospitals are still cautious.
A lawyer who specializes in medical law said, “According to the current law, the uterine transplant itself may violate the law.”