A hospital in Brazil delivered a healthy baby girl from a woman who received a uterus transplant from a dead donor.
This is the first successful case of its kind, doctors have revealed. While uterus transplants from deceased donors have been carried out in at least 12 countries including the United States, none has produced live births.
Details of the transplant and the birth have been published in the journal The Lancet.
Uterus Transplant From Deceased Donor
The report revealed that the mother, a 32-year-old woman, has a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome, which means she has an underdeveloped or absent vagina and uterus. Usually, affected women neither have menstrual periods nor able to carry a pregnancy.
The donor, meanwhile, passed away due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage. She was 45 years old and had three vaginal deliveries prior to her death.
According to the paper, months before the transplant, the unnamed woman underwent in-vitro fertilization that resulted in eight early-stage embryos. These were cryopreserved until she was ready to get pregnant.
The transplant lasted for 10 hours. Doctors had to connect veins, arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canal of the recipient to the donated uterus. The woman had to be observed for several months in case the body rejected the uterus or complications arise.
However, five months after the transplant, the woman had, for the first time in her life, experienced menstruation. Two months later, doctors implanted the first single embryo.
The baby was born through c-section on Dec. 15, 2017. She weighed 2,550 grams.
During the same surgery, the transplanted uterus had to be removed so that the recipient can stop taking immunosuppressive drugs. Doctors said that the transplanted uterus showed no signs of rejection and only changes that occurred during pregnancy have been observed.
The woman and her baby girl were released from the hospital three days later. Both remain healthy and normal seven months after the procedure.
Dani Ejzenberg, the doctor who led the research, called the delivery a "medical milestone." He also said that the technique gives women with infertility issues a wider access to potential uterus donors.
"The numbers of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own deaths are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population," he stated.
However, Mats Brännström of University of Gothenburg in Sweden who performed the first successful uterus transplant from a living donor in 2013 said that the technique needs to be "replicated by several teams around the globe" to be validated. He remains hopeful that future transplants will allow women to give birth and significantly increase the quality of life of parents.