Though he is ready to part with the institute he built, IVF legend Dr Baidyanath Chakrabarty holds on to his dream of carrying out the country’s first successful uterus transplant leading to pregnancy. The 90-year-old who has donated the Institute of Reproductive Medicine (IRM) — one of the first and most successful fertility clinics set up by him in 1986 that produced more than 4,000 test-tube babies — to ICMR hopes to be able to achieve his dream through his team of doctors and researchers who will persist with the effort at IRM even after it changes hands in December. Chakrabarty was a part of the team led by Subhas Mukhopadhyay, which produced the country’s first test-tube baby in 1978.
The veteran medic was one of the first in India to create an artificial vagina in women who suffered from genital deformities. He even created a uterus from a partially formed organ in several women. “I have been working on developmental anomaly of the female genitals since 1965. There are some who have deformed genitals or a partially formed uterus, which prevent them from having a normal conjugal life and conceiving. At IRM, we have managed to create the genitals and even a partially functional uterus that can trigger menstruation. But we still haven’t managed to create a fully functional uterus that can help conceive. But the work will go on and I am optimistic that we will succeed someday,” Chakrabarty said.
Under the leadership of surgeons Subhas Haldar and Hiralal Konar, IRM’s researchers will carry on the work, Chakrabarty assured. “Uterus transplants are not yet permitted in India. Unfortunately, our laws allow transplant of only those organs that are life-saving. So I had been focusing on creating a fully functional uterus from natural tissues and parts of the organ in women with deformed uterus,” he explained.
IRM receives around 25 such patients a year and though a majority of them undergo a successful vagina reconstruction, they can’t conceive. “We have done around 1,000 successful genital reconstructions and had been inching towards creating a uterus. But once we started doing IVF more frequently since 2000, the focus shifted. But our research never stopped,” he added.
But Chakrabarty felt that laws will eventually change, allowing uterus transplants. “There have been just two successful transplants in the world leading to pregnancies. It’s not easy for the recipient since she has to be on medicines for the rest of her life. There is always a fear of infection from the transplanted organ and possibility of it being rejected by the system. But with research and progress in reproductive medicine, uterus transplants will become safer. It will be as commonplace as the heart, liver and kidney transplants we now see,” he said.
Source: Times of India