Doctor planning womb transplant to allow a transgender woman to carry children


A close-up of a pregnant belly.

A pregnant person.Getty Images

  • A doctor in India is planning a womb transplant to allow a transgender woman to carry children.

  • The only recorded case of a trans woman having a uterus transplant in 1931 led to her death.

  • Medical professionals are divided over whether the operation would be successful.

A doctor in India is planning to transplant a womb into a transgender woman, possibly enabling her to carry children, a report says.

New Delhi-based surgeon Dr Narendra Kaushik plans to perform the surgery at his clinic using a donated organ from a living or dead donor, according to The Mirror.

“Every transgender woman wants to be as female as possible,” Kaushik told the paper.

“And that includes being a mother. The way towards this is with a uterine transplant, the same as a kidney or any other transplant.”

While a transplanted uterus would not allow a transgender woman to conceive naturally, due to the womb not connecting to any fallopian tubes, she could in theory become pregnant through IVF, The Mirror said.

There has only been one recorded case of a trans woman having a uterus transplant, Danish artist Lili Elbe in 1931, but she died months later from complications. Elbe was played by Eddie Redmayne in the Oscar-winning film “The Danish Girl.”

Uterine transplants are rare even for cis-gender woman, having first being successfully carried out in Sweden in 2014. The first US uterine transplant took place at the Cleveland Clinic in 2016. Both procedures resulted in successful live births.

The costly and complicated procedures are considered to be experimental and risky, with many procedures failing or causing complications.

Medical professionals are divided over whether the operation in a transgender woman would be successful.

Surgeon Christopher Inglefield, founder of the London Transgender Clinic, said the procedure would be “essentially identical” to that of a cis-women, The Mirror reported.

“Once the medical community accept this as a treatment for cis-women with uterine infertility, such as the congenital absence of a womb, then it would be illegal to deny a trans-female who has completed her transition,” Inglefield said.

“There are clearly anatomical boundaries when it comes to trans women but these are problems that I believe can be surmounted and the transplant into a trans-female is essentially identical to that of a cis-female.”

However, Professor Robert Winston, a renowned British doctor, said the procedure was “very dangerous,” according to The Mirror.

“The problems are huge, it would be a hugely difficult operation,” Winston 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,” he said.

Dr Kaushik, who runs a busy clinic performing gender-affirming surgeries, said he is confident in the procedure.

“This is the future. We cannot predict exactly when this will happen but it will happen very soon,” he told The Mirror.

“We have our plans and we are very very optimistic about this.”

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