Monday June 18, 2018

Australian Cervical Cancer Patient’s crazy request for New Womb makes History

Miscarriages are happening all over the place but here you have these dead uteruses that can carry a baby

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FILE - In this April 4, 2012 photo made available by the University of Goteborg in Sweden, the Swedish research team practices before the operations to transplant wombs at the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden.(VOA)
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  • Brannstrom went on to become the first doctor to deliver babies — five so far — from women with donated wombs
  • Over the next decade, Brannstrom and his team performed hundreds of uterus transplants in rats, sheep, pigs and monkeys
  • The wombs are intended to be kept for a maximum of two pregnancies and are then removed so that patients can stop taking anti-rejection medicines

Stockholm, October 8, 2016: When the young Australian cervical cancer patient learned she had to lose her womb in order to survive, she proposed something audacious to the doctor who was treating her: She asked if she could have a womb transplant, so she could one day carry her own baby.

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This was nearly two decades ago when the Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom was training to be a physician abroad.

“I thought she was a bit crazy,” Brannstrom said.

But Brannstrom didn’t dismiss her idea. Instead, after he returned to Sweden he began a series of painstaking research projects to learn whether it might be possible to transplant a womb, despite criticism that the unheard-of procedure was dangerous, medically unnecessary, and impossible.

Mats Brannstrom poses besides a photo showing the birth of a baby of a mother with a womb transplant at Stockholm IVF fertility clinic in Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 19, 2016. (VOA)
Mats Brannstrom poses beside a photo showing the birth of a baby of a mother with a womb transplant at Stockholm IVF fertility clinic in Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 19, 2016. (VOA)

Brannstrom went on to become the first doctor to deliver babies — five so far — from women with donated wombs. No other doctor in the world has succeeded, despite attempts in the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and ongoing efforts in China, Britain, France, the Czech Republic and elsewhere.

The first of Brannstrom’s patients’ babies was born in 2014 and the fifth arrived in January; another is due in early 2017.

Brannstrom is working with doctors at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic to help women beyond Sweden get access to the procedure. Doctors at Baylor University in Texas, including two former members of Brannstrom’s team, announced this week they performed four womb transplants. One was successful, but not yet ready to attempt a pregnancy.

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And scientists, many of whom were both doubtful and critical before, now believe Brannstrom’s work could help them extend the use of organs for those who need transplants and learn how embryos implant in the uterus after conception, a poorly understood but critical stage in pregnancy.

Early studies, custom-made tools

To figure out if womb transplants were even feasible, Brannstrom first asked Rana Akouri, then one of his doctoral students, to start experimenting in rodents in 1999. He picked Akouri because of her delicate surgical skills — a mouse uterus is only less than an inch long (about 2 centimeters). The surgery was so complex, Akouri needed four custom-made tools to perform the microscopic operations.

FILE - Vincent, the first baby born to a woman who had a womb transplant, is cradled by his mother at an undisclosed location in Sweden, Oct. 6, 2014.(VOA)
FILE – Vincent, the first baby born to a woman who had a womb transplant, is cradled by his mother at an undisclosed location in Sweden, Oct. 6, 2014.(VOA)

After nearly two years, Akouri noticed in the belly of one of her mice a slight bulge. Too impatient to wait, she performed a cesarean section that evening — and found two tiny babies inside.

“I called Mats at 10pm and told him, ‘one of our mice is pregnant!’” she said.

That night, Brannstrom said, was the first time he thought that a womb transplant in humans might actually be possible.

“If it hadn’t worked in mice, we would have quit,” he said.

Transplants, tests, travel

Over the next decade, Brannstrom and his team performed hundreds of uterus transplants in rats, sheep, pigs and monkeys. Because Sweden forbids experiments in non-human primates, Brannstrom and 10 other doctors and nurses flew to Kenya nearly 20 times to perfect things like their surgical technique and the use of immune-suppressing drugs in baboons.

Brannstrom described the less-than-ideal conditions in Nairobi — no regular showers and power failures during surgery — as “team-building” experiences. Wooden carvings of African birds picked up during those trips now adorn several shelves at Brannstrom’s fertility clinic in Stockholm.

‘Into the unknown’

In 2012, it was time to try the surgery in humans. He obtained ethical permission to perform womb transplants in nine Swedish women. He then held an information session one evening in the southern city of Gothenburg, where the operations were to take place.

“We were quite frank in telling them, ‘This is not an infertility treatment, you’re participating in a scientific trial,’” he said. “We’re going into the unknown.”

Albin's mother Emelie Eriksson, left, poses for a photo with her son and her mother Marie, right, outside her home in Bergshamra, Sweden, Sept. 20, 2016. For Emelie Eriksson, the bond she shares with her son Albin is particularly unique: both Emelie and Albin were born from the same womb, after Emelie received her mother’s transplanted uterus in a revolutionary operation that links three generations of their family. (VOA)
Albin’s mother Emelie Eriksson, left, poses for a photo with her son and her mother Marie, right, outside her home in Bergshamra, Sweden, Sept. 20, 2016. For Emelie Eriksson, the bond she shares with her son Albin is particularly unique: both Emelie and Albin were born from the same womb, after Emelie received her mother’s transplanted uterus in a revolutionary operation that links three generations of their family. (VOA)

Of the nine women who had the transplants, two had their wombs removed when complications arose. Five women had healthy babies and the last two are trying to get pregnant.

At the time, many fertility experts considered it an outlandish pursuit.

“I thought this was crazy, a high-risk surgery for no reason,” said Dr. Tommaso Falcone of the Cleveland Clinic in the U.S. But a trip to Sweden to see Brannstrom’s clinic changed his mind. Falcone is now at the forefront of the Cleveland Clinic’s womb transplantation project. He and colleagues performed the first such operation in the U.S. in February, although the organ had to be removed after the patient developed an infection.

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Falcone predicts that Brannstrom’s work will lead to a better understanding of embryo implantation. And he marveled at the fact that babies have been born from organs once flushed with a cold solution — rendering them technically dead — before being placed into the recipient.

“Miscarriages are happening all over the place but here you have these dead uteruses that can carry a baby,” he said.

‘Rejuvenating’ older wombs

Other experts thought it was astonishing that wombs of some post-menopausal women were able to grow healthy babies after being transplanted. Doctors typically expect younger organs to work better, but in the case of womb transplantation, organs from older women appeared “rejuvenated” after being dosed with hormones.

“All of a sudden, you have this old organ doing things that you only expected a young uterus to do,” said Dr. Stefan Tullius, chair of transplant surgery at Harvard Medical School, who said that could lead to insights into extending the use of other organs.

Until now, Brannstrom has only used live donors, considered by some to be unethical because it means putting a healthy woman at risk for a procedure that isn’t life-saving. The wombs are intended to be kept for a maximum of two pregnancies and are then removed so that patients can stop taking anti-rejection medicines.

Brannstrom believes doctors in other countries will soon deliver more babies from women with transplanted wombs and predicts that the surgery will one day become routine.

Emelie Eriksson, who received a womb transplant and then had a baby boy in 2014, said she could never thank Brannstrom enough.

“I think I need to thank him a thousand times more,” she said. “He’s my hero. He made it possible for me to have a child.” (VOA)

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  • Antara

    Medical marvels keep fascinating us! Amazing news!

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)