The Swedish surgeon who performed the world’s first uterus transplant in 2012, Professor Mats Brannstrom, led the surgeries on Bryant and Hayton and shared his expertise with the Royal’s team.
The donor surgery to remove Hayton’s uterus, which began at 7 a.m., was by far the longer and riskier of the two surgeries, Brannstrom said.
“After my hysterectomy, I really had to grieve … to get this chance, yes, I’m going to dream big.”
“The difficulty lies in the fact that the blood vessels are small and you work like in a funnel. So your access is very limited. We dissect the organ, and that means you actually remove all the other tissues around the uterus.
“Small blood vessels are running out and we are trying to isolate them. The problem is that there is a ureter on each side. And the ureter goes from the kidney to the bladder, and we can’t hurt that.”
The uterus was lifted from Hayton’s body about nine hours later and taken to a table where it was run over ice before being sutured with extremely fine threads to Bryant’s blood vessels, which were almost too small to see with the naked eye.
The recipient surgery ended at around 10pm, marking a major moment in Australian medical history and opening an exciting new avenue in the treatment of infertility.
“Personally and professionally, it’s just been amazing, and I think everyone felt the same way,” Deans said. “The team, the nursing staff, the anesthesiologists and everyone said so many components that they felt the same way that they really felt like this was one of those moments that you think about professionally and will never forget.”
While the surgeries went without major complications, recovery was not easy for either patient. Bryant suffered significant blood loss 24 hours after surgery and required transfusions, while Hayton suffered a serious infection and is yet to feel her bladder.
However, a month after the biggest day of their lives, Bryant and Hayton said they have no regrets — even though there’s no guarantee of a baby’s reward.
“I wouldn’t put my hand up and try, I think I’d regret it a lot,” Bryant said. “Even if it doesn’t go to plan, the research and the information they get from it in Australia will be worth it. I just want to give hope and give options to other women out there.”
The next step for Bryant is still on hold at the Royal’s IVF lab: embryos frozen six months before surgery. Deans will determine when she’s ready for the transfer, but early signs are that the uterus is responding well and Bryant could be pregnant by Christmas.
“It could be anywhere from three to six months after surgery before we can start implanting these embryos … and each of these embryos has a 30 to 50 percent chance of success.”
While transplanted uteruses are usually removed after five years, some overseas recipients have managed to carry two pregnancies in their donated organ; an opportunity that Bryant is very open to.
“If we can dream a little, I would love to carry two more pregnancies. I really had to mourn that after my hysterectomy; that I could no longer get pregnant. And then to get that chance, yes, I’m going to dream big.”
As Bryant’s anxious wait for a baby begins, the royal will move forward with plans for 11 more transplants. However, the hospital’s endowment needs to raise another $1 million to fully fund the three-year research trial and achieve Deans’ goal of one day making uterine transplants as widespread as IVF.
“A lot of women come forward and say, ‘I’d really like to do that. I have no other options. We are dying to have another child and we would really like to be considered.’ I would love to be able to offer this to women in Australia.”
Watch the story of Australia’s first uterus transplant on 60 Minutes tonight at 8.40pm (AEDT) on Nine and 9Now.
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/first-australian-uterus-transplant-changes-future-of-infertility-treatment-20230225-p5cnkr.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Uterine transplant a first for Australia that offers hope for the future of infertility treatment