A New Delhi surgeon plans to transplant a uterus into a transwoman – a biological man – to enable him to give birth to a child. Dr Narendra Kaushik, who does gender reassignment surgery, says that he is “very, very optimistic” that the operation will succeed. “Every transgender woman wants to be as female as possible — and that includes being a mother,” he told The Mirror, a UK tabloid.
Some doctors believe that the operation is theoretically possible. But it has only been attempted once before – and that was in 1931. Danish artist Lili Elbe had uterus transplant at the age of 48, at the very dawn of transgender medicine. But she died of complications. A fictionalised account of her life became a best-selling book and a movie, The Danish Girl.
A well-known English IVF specialist, Simon Fishel, told The Mirror that he was sceptical of Dr Kaushik’s ambitions. “It would be grossly irresponsible to just shoot this off first in humans without testing it on animals. And that research has not yet, to my knowledge, been done. It’s bordering on madness to even try.”
IVF pioneer Professor Lord Robert Winston said that the operation would be a health risk. “The problems are huge, it would be a hugely difficult operation,” he said. “And you still don’t have a functioning cervix or vagina to allow the birth canal. The risk of death to the patient would be very high. Both from the operation to allow the transplantation and also from the pregnancy. It would simply not be ethically acceptable.”