Ten women in the United Kingdom will get womb transplants as part of a clinical trial approved by the country's Health Research Authority following successful procedures in Sweden.

Doctors at Imperial College London have been given the go-ahead to carry out the transplants as part of the clinical trial, which, if successful, could see Britain's first babies born from womb transplants in late 2017 or 2018.

Following the six-hour procedures, the women in the trial will have to be on immunosuppressant drugs following the transplant and throughout any subsequent pregnancy to ensure the donated womb is not rejected.

Womb transplants were first successfully conducted in Sweden, where last year, a 36-year-old woman gave birth to a healthy child after receiving a new womb from a living donor, a 61-year-old family friend.

Since then, three more women there have given birth after having the same transplant surgery.

About one in 7,000 women is born without a womb; others have medical conditions that prevent the womb from properly developing, while others lose their womb to cervical cancer.

In the United Kingdom, more than 100 women have met the requirements set by Womb Transplant UK, in charge of the trial.

The 10 selected for transplants will first have to undergo physical, medical and psychological assessments.

Before the transplant takes place, the womens' eggs will be harvested and fertilized with their husbands' sperm in an IVF procedure to create embryos that will be frozen awaiting the transplanted wombs.

Once implanted in the new wombs, the embryos will be monitored for normal development and delivered after eight months by Cesarean section.

Couples will be given the option to attempt two pregnancies with the transplanted wombs, after which they would be surgically removed, freeing the women from the need to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives.

"As we have seen from the tremendously successful womb transplant program being carried out by our colleagues in Sweden, this operation is clearly a viable option for those women who otherwise have absolutely no chance of carrying their own baby," says project leader Richard Smith, a gynecologist at The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London.

The undertaking has been a 19-year effort for him, he says.

"Over the years I have quite a lot of crisis with this project ... but when you meet the women who have been born without a uterus, or who have had their uterus removed for one reason or another, this is really heart-rending stuff and that is what has kept us going," he says.

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