Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

First Baby Born Using Uterus Transplanted From Deceased Donor: Doctors

First Baby Born Using Uterus Transplanted From Deceased Donor: Doctors

A Brazilian baby will celebrate her first birthday later this month, less than two years after her mother-unable to carry a pregnancy because she lacked a uterus-underwent a transplant from a deceased donor.

The recipient had Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, which affects about one in every 4,500 women and results in the vagina and uterus (womb) failing to form properly.

A baby girl weighing 2.55kg (6.6lbs) was born by caesarean section after a pregnancy lasting 35 weeks and three days.

With both the mother and baby healthy a year later, it represents a massive step forward for maternal science.

In a landmark move, a baby in Brazil has been born to a woman with a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor.

Before this breakthrough, women suffering from infertility due to congenital abnormalities, cancer, or other illnesses had few options aside from surrogacy or adoption.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet, reported on the mother before, during after her transplant and subsequent birth.

Eleven previous births have used a transplanted womb, but those were from a living donor.

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The recipient had her first menstruation 37 days after the uterus transplant, and continued to have regular cycles after that. Shortly thereafter, surgeons performed a uterus transplant, connecting the donor organ to the recipient's veins, arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals during a surgery that lasted more than 10 hours.

Dr Dani Ejzenberg, from the Faculty of Medicine at Sao Paulo University, who led the team, said: "The use of deceased donors could greatly broaden access to this treatment, and our results provide proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility". The transplant surgery took 10 hours, and the woman was given immunosuppressive medications so her body wouldn't reject the new uterus.

After five months, the uterus showed no sign of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the woman was menstruating regularly. "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". The woman then became pregnant through in vitro fertilization with her own eggs, which she had previously frozen.

"The pregnancy in the first attempt, with the transfer of only one embryo, surprised us, but we were confident of achieving gestation due to the quality of the staff of our human reproduction center that has worked for 15 years with good results", Ejzenberg says.

He said live uterus donors are rare and typically eligible family members or close friends of women seeking the transplant.

"We must congratulate the authors", commented Srdjan Saso, an honourary clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, describing the findings as "extremely exciting". It is not clear yet, for instance, whether transplants from live or deceased donors will end up being more successful in the long run, she says.

Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, also welcomed the announcement but sounded a note of caution.

Although uterus transplants are a growing area of medicine, they remain highly experimental and are very hard surgeries to complete.

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