The Gift of a Uterus

A couple of Swedish women are making headlines this week due to a potentially groundbreaking surgery they are electing to undergo in order to transplant a mother’s uterus into her daughter. Twenty-five-year-old Sara Ottoson has a rare disorder called Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser, meaning she was born without parts of her reproductive system. Her 56-year-old mother has volunteered to donate her own uterus so her daughter can potentially have children of her own.

This situation obviously raises an ethical question as, should the donation and transplant work, Ottoson’s child(ren) will be born of the same uterus she herself incubated in at one point in time. For the women at the center of the scenario, this is not an issue. Ottoson herself is a biology teacher who is taking a very logical stand on the matter.

“I’m a biology teacher and it’s just an organ like any other organ,” Ottoson is quoted on Jezebel.com. “But my mum did ask me about this. She said, ‘Isn’t it weird?’ And my answer is no. I’m more worried that my mum is going to have a big operation.”

Only one uterus transplant has taken place historically to date: a 26-year-old received a womb from a 46-year-old in Saudi Arabia back in 2000, only to have it removed 99 days post-surgery due to complications.

The Ottoson quandary is raising another question in the process: if a uterus can be transplanted in another woman successfully, could one be transplanted in a man as well?

Just a month ago on May 27, 2011, 27-year-old Nicolette Soto of Phoenix, Arizona was in the news for giving birth to a child who gestated outside of her womb.

Instead, the child had gestated in the mother’s abdominal muscles surround by a membrane layer. Although the child, a son, was born eight weeks premature, he was healthy and has been thriving since.

Wouldn’t it make sense, then, that an embryo implanted in the abdominal muscles of a male could produce a healthy child as well? It may be a long-shot, bringing the movie Junior to mind, but it might actually be possible.

If this is possible in the not-so-distant future, the idea of “increasing male fertility” as discussed in the following Mahalo video could have completely different implications:

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Filed under Social Justice, Women

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