First U.K. Womb Transplants Approved For 10 British Women

Ten women will undergo the first womb transplants in the U.K. after a committee at Imperial College London granted ethical approval for the transplants, Sky News reported.

Womb Transplant U.K., a medical charity seeking to promote womb transplants, said a team of doctors hoped to begin the operations in early 2016. A total of 104 women have been identified by the charity as eligible for a womb transplant.

One in every 5,000 U.K. women is born without a womb, and their current childbearing options are limited to adoption or surrogacy. If the operations are successful, the first babies born from womb transplants in the U.K. could arrive in late 2017 or early 2018.

The approval follows the successful case of a Swedish woman, who became the first person to give birth using a transplanted womb last October, the BBC reported.

Richard Smith, a consultant gynaecologist at the Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London and the head of Womb Transplant U.K.'s research team, told the BBC that childlessness could be a "disaster" for many couples and that the transplants offered an alternative which fulfils "the deep desire that women have to carry their own baby."

Women eligible for a womb transplant must be aged between 25 and 38, in a long-term relationship and have functioning ovaries and eggs. Womb Transplant U.K. has currently raised just over £40,000 ($60,658) of a £500,000 ($758,225) target, funding which Smith said is necessary to complete the transplant program.