Tuesday, January 16, 2007

First U.S. Uterus Transplant Planned -- Is the Risk Justified?

From the Washington Post:

-- A New York hospital is taking steps to offer the nation's first uterus transplant, a radical experiment that might allow women whose wombs were removed or are defective to bear children.

The wombs would come from dead donors, just as most other organs do, and would be removed after the recipient gives birth so she would not need anti-rejection drugs her whole life. To read on...

We've blogged about this before -- but two big questions arise that no one seems to want to answer: What about the impact of anti-rejection drugs on the fetus during development? From what I understand, anti-rejection drugs are teratogenic or embryocidal. Does a woman's desire to bear a child justifiably outweigh the likely harm to the fetus? And if you decide that a woman could justifiably exercise her autonomy in such a manner, why not allow male pregnancy? (which we've blogged about before, too, here and here.) Either through a womb transplant or via an embryo implanted in the peritoneal sac? (some sort of flexible mesh that would allow growth of the embryo/fetus and yet prevent the endometrial and placental tissues from attaching to major organs would have to be devised).

I could imagine some argument about this being a women's natural role, but pu-leeze, do we really want to go there?

(image courtesy of http://www.malepregnancy.com -- an artist's rendition)

1 comment:

Kelly Hills said...

I'm really curious why no one has answered the very basic question about the anti-rejection drugs. (I can more clearly understand why they'd skirt around the issue of male pregnancy - that's just a can of PR worms.)

Back in October, McGee wrote a piece about case studies, and the increasing reporting, both by doctors/hospitals and journalists, of a single case as something revolutionary, with the weight of a clinical trial. (In these reports, for example, the so-called miracle of Ambien on PVS patients, the single case study is treated like it's The Answer, the be all end all, and that there is no need for further research, hallelujah a cure.) These reports are universally positive and hope-full; there is no questioning the findings, no looking forward to full-scale trials, etc.

The point, at least in part, is to drive research funding... and this feels the same, to me. More that it's hype, ignoring consequences and questions, designed to generate publicity - and, one presumes, income.