A NSW mum has become the first woman in Australia to undergo a uterus transplant, generously donated by her mother.
It will mean Kirsty Bryant, 30, will potentially be able to carry a child in the same womb where her own life began.
After suffering a life-threatening haemorrhage during the birth of her daughter, the Coffs Harbour mum had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy, leaving her unable to fall pregnant again.
Six months later, she was exploring her options and found a research trial being conducted at The Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney that will see six uterus transplant surgeries take place over three years.
Hopeful to be part of the trial, Ms Bryant turned to her mother for help.
"She called me and she said to me 'hey mum, hypothetically if you could have a hysterectomy and I could have your uterus, would that be something you would do?’" her mother Michelle Hayton recalled to ABC News.
"I didn't hesitate, I straight away said, 'yep, that's not a problem’. Kirsty's not just my daughter, she's my best friend and I love her so much.”
Ms Bryant said she felt “incredibly lucky” to be accepted into the trial and to be the first recipient.
Complex uterus surgery a success
The mammoth 16-hour operations took place on January 10 and involved a team of 20 medical professionals – including Dr Jana Pittman.
Ms Hayton’s surgery was the “hardest job of the two” and took roughly 10 hours, gynaecologist Jason Abbott told the ABC.
The complex operations were overseen by Dr Mats Brännström, a Swedish surgeon who performed the world’s first successful uterus transplant in 2013. That operation led to a live birth.
Uterus transplants are not a permanent fix – they last roughly five years and are designed to last long enough for women to have children.
Incredibly, just 32 days after the operation, Ms Bryant’s period returned.
"That's obviously the first step to being able to start planning for an embryo transfer, we are hoping sort of middle of this year, all going well,” Ms Bryant said.
"I'm just incredibly grateful that in Australia we are moving towards this sort of research and hopefully giving other women options."
True test will be if uterus can support a baby
Dr Abbott said the true test will be seeing if the new uterus can support the growth of a baby.
Dr Rebecca Deans, gynaecologist and research lead for the trial, told RN Breakfast she was “amazed” at Ms Bryant’s successful surgery.
“I knew it could be done, but it's just wonderful to have it here in Australia,” she said.
Dr Deans explained why the surgery was more difficult in Ms Bryan’s 53-year-old mother.
“The donor surgery, you need to remove not just the uterus but all the vessels surrounding it and you need to take them out quite laterally, or wide, from the organ so that you can then attach them to the greater organs in the recipient, which sit out on the side walls on the abdomen,” she said.
Ms Bryant underwent IVF and has six embryos “ready to go”, which Dr Deans hopes can be transferred to the new uterus in the next few months.
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