02.03.2024

The UK’s breakthrough womb transplant gives me a ‘glimmer of hope’ that I can have a child

A woman who was born without a uterus has shared how the UK’s first womb transplant has given her a ‘glimmer of hope‘ that she can one day carry her own child.

Hannah Vaughan, who lives in Cheshire, found out that she had Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome when she was 16 — a condition that means she doesn’t have a womb so is unable to become pregnant.

The 24-year-old said the diagnosis left her feeling ‘quite isolated’ and ‘very different’.

However, surgeons in the UK yesterday revealed that they had performed the nation’s first womb transplant in a 34-year-old woman with MRKH.

The social care worker said she is ‘unbelievably happy’ that the groundbreaking procedure went well and that she would ‘not even think twice’ about undergoing the same op.

Hannah Vaughan (right), who lives in Cheshire, found out that she had Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome when she was 16 — a condition that means she was doesn’t have a womb and is unable to have periods

Miss Vaughan and her partner, Luke Seddon-Rimmer (right), whom she has been with for nearly three years, are in the process of starting their in vitro fertilisation (IVF) journey after initial tests found that she had a 'quite low ovarian reserve', which means that she has a lower number of eggs in the ovaries than expected for her age

Miss Vaughan and her partner, Luke Seddon-Rimmer (right), whom she has been with for nearly three years, are in the process of starting their in vitro fertilisation (IVF) journey after initial tests found that she had a ‘quite low ovarian reserve’, which means that she has a lower number of eggs in the ovaries than expected for her age

Miss Vaughan said that receiving her diagnosis of MRKH was ‘a nice feeling at that age because I was still becoming me and have always wanted to have children’.

Miss Vaughan said: ‘Even though I had lots of people around me, I still felt isolated.

‘At that age, I thought I could put it to the back of my mind a little bit because I’m not ready just yet, but at the same time — it still affected me every day and I had counselling at the time.’

The condition affects about one in every 5,000 women.

It means a woman has been born with an underdeveloped womb or without a womb, cervix and upper vagina. Their ovaries and external genitalia appear normal.

The first sign of MRKH is usually that a girl does not start having periods. Sex may also be difficult because the vagina may be short.

Until now, the only way sufferers could have a biological child was by taking eggs from their ovaries, fertilising them and implanting them in another woman. But this option isn’t available to all woman with MRKH.

But a 34-year-old with MRKH with this week revealed as the first person in the UK to receive a womb transplant, from her sister, at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, which is part of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Miss Vaughan said news of the transplant was ‘amazing’ to hear as she was told about it early on in her diagnosis, but thought it was ‘unlikely’ to have happened by the time she was ready to start planning to have children.

‘When I found out I had MRKH, I was like that’s not going to be ready when I’m ready’, she said.

‘I’m just so unbelievably happy for that woman — bless her.

‘It just gives you that glimmer of hope that if that opportunity is there and I am able to do that safely and successfully, I would not even think twice about doing that.’

She added that she found solace in the fact that the receiver of the womb transplant also has MRKH and to see that the procedure ‘is going well for her’.

Miss Vaughan has researched the womb transplant procedure, but said she is aware of the potential risks, which include organ rejection, and said she would monitor the outcome of future womb transplants.

Before receiving her new womb, the unidentified recipient had two rounds of fertility stimulation to produce eggs, followed by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to create embryos.

In order to qualify for a womb transplant, Miss Vaughan said: ‘I believe I would need to have frozen my embryos (which I am in the process of doing) and there are lots of health tests in order to progress through the treatment.’

Miss Vaughan and her partner, Luke Seddon-Rimmer, whom she has been with for nearly three years, are in the process of starting their in vitro fertilisation (IVF) journey after initial tests found that she had a ‘quite low ovarian reserve’, which means that she has a lower number of eggs in the ovaries than expected for her age.

She said she would ‘love’ to have a child with Mr Seddon-Rimmer, whom she said reacted to her condition ‘very well’.

‘Having a child of my own and carrying my own child would be the most incredible thing in the whole world for me’, she said.

‘Unless you have MRKH or have an experience with something which may reduce your chances of having your own children, it is hard to understand what it is like.’

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