A Blackburn doctor was part of the ground-breaking team that successfully performed the first ever womb transplant in the UK.

This week medics around the country welcomed the news that a woman has successfully received a womb donated by her older sister.

The ‘medical milestone’ offers new hope not only to young girls born without a womb but also others who may have had their uterus removed due to illness.

The recipient was a 34-year-old woman and the donor her 40-year-old sister, who both wish to remain anonymous. Her sister already had two children and had completed her family. Both sisters live in England and the procedure took place in February.

Part of the team who performed the procedure was Dr Saaliha Vali who was born and raised in Blackburn and went on to qualify as a fertility specialist. She is currently practising in London but also spent her time as a junior doctor working in Royal Blackburn Hospital. 

The womb transplant surgical procedure formed the basis of her PhD work which she is completing at Imperial College London. Dr Vali assisted in the surgical procedure and captured a video of the surgery taking place.

She posted: "Proud to have been part of the incredible womb transplant WTUK team performing the UK’s first uterus transplant. 

"A huge thank you to all the surgeons, nurses and hospital staff who helped make this possible."

Professor Richard Smith, from Imperial College London, carried out the landmark womb transplant alongside colleague Isabel Quiroga, from the Oxford Transplant Centre in February.

Professor Richard Smith described the joy he shared with the sisters during a clinic one month on.

"We were all in tears - it was very, very emotional.

"I think it was probably the most stressful week of our surgical careers, but also unbelievably positive.

"The donor and recipient are just over the moon."

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The 34-year-old woman received the womb during an operation lasting nine hours and 20 minutes carried out at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. (Pictures Womb Transplant UK/PA)

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Dr Meenakshi Choudhary, consultant in reproductive medicine and gynaecology at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “(This is) exciting news of the first successful womb transplant in the UK.

“This medical milestone offers hope not only to young girls born without a womb but also to a broader range of individuals facing reproductive challenges following removal of the uterus for various indications such as cancer.

“The implications are immense, giving them the possibility to experience the joys of pregnancy and motherhood. A remarkable stride forward in medical science and gender inclusivity.”

Adam Balen, professor of reproductive medicine and surgery at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This is an excellent and highly significant achievement, being the first uterine transplant to be performed in the UK and I congratulate the Oxford/London team.

“There have been many successful transplants performed around the world now and this brings hope for women born without a uterus for whom conceiving a baby through IVF surrogacy may not be an option.

“The surgery is highly complex for both donor and recipient and requires the need for the use of anti-rejection drugs taken by the recipient for the duration of the transplant.”