Women who had been born without a womb, or who had their womb removed, would be the first candidates for a transplant, said Professor Mats Brannstrom of Sahlgrenska University in Gotenburg.

Saying that age would not be a barrier, he suggested that possible donors could be a sister or the woman’s mother.

The donated uterus must be genetically matched, which is why a blood relative would be ideal. However, drugs would be needed to prevent rejection of the transplant.

"We hope to do this in two to three years," Brannstrom told a fertility conference. "It could be that you could give birth to a baby from the uterus that you yourself were born from."

He and his colleagues have already produced two generations of mice from a transplanted womb. After further studies in mice and pigs to perfect the technique, they hope to begin human transplants.

Advantages over surrogacy

Doctors say the surgery would be comparable to a kidney transplant and would therefore offer advantages over surrogacy, which is not allowed in many countries.

"In most parts of the world surrogacy is considered unethical or is not permitted by law," said Brannstrom.

With a womb transplant, there is no economic motivation nor any health risks of pregnancy, such as high blood pressure.
 
It also removes any legal complications about who is the mother. In some countries the legal mother is the woman who gives birth, regardless of whether she is the biological mother.

"With transplantation, the mother will be the social mother, the gestation mother and the genetic mother," he said.

Problems with a woman’s uterus occurs in three or four percent of infertile.

But there would probably be no shortage of women willing to try the technique, as Brannstrom explained that he has already received hundreds of inquiries from women who have read about his success with uterine transplants in mice.

"There is a demand," he says.

In-vitro fertilisation would be used and the child would be born through Caesarean section.

A womb transplant has already been done in Saudi Arabia but it was removed after 99 days because of blood clotting.