India's first uterine transplant is all set to take place on May 18 by Pune's Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute (GCLI).
While the Pune hospital will be the first to perform this procedure in India, Bengaluru's Milann Fertility Centre will conduct uterine transplants in June on two women born with no uterus.
Womb transplants will be performed on three women with different uterine complications to help them try for successful pregnancies. While the first transplant is taking place on May 18, another one will happen on May 19, and the third will be conducted in June.
Patients will be monitored closely for six months. Depending on their health, fertilised embryos will be transferred into the uterus via IVF procedure.
The Pune hospital has the license to conduct womb transplants for a period of five years granted by the Directorate of Health Services, Maharashtra.
Milann received an approval for the procedures from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It did pointed that the Pune hospital did not have ICMR's approval, as mandated by India's apex research body for experimental procedures.
A total of 25 such transplants have been conducted all over the world with the first successful uterine transplant being carried out in Sweden in 2013. In the Swedish trial of 11 transplants, seven ended in successful pregnancies.
Dr Kamini Rao, Medical Director, Milann, said the Swedish team from the University of Gothenburg who conducted the trial will be on board for the procedures.
"We obtained ICMR's approval in February since it is an experimental procedure", she said.
Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, Medical Director, GCLI, reacting to questions raised on a possible lapse in protocol, said, "They (Milann) probably did not get permission from the state authority, which is why they had to approach ICMR. They are getting a team from Sweden while we are doing it on own since we are competent." Dr Puntambekar is an onco surgeon who developed a laparoscopic radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer known world over as the Pune Technique.
Meanwhile, ICMR's Director-General Dr Soumya Swaminathan said, "As this is an experimental procedure, it should be done under a research protocol. They (GCLI) appear to be going ahead with it as a patient treatment with approval from local health authorities. ICMR does not have the mandate to interfere at this stage."