Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

First baby born after uterus transplant from dead donor

First baby born after uterus transplant from dead donor

A woman who received a uterus transplant from a deceased donor has given birth to a healthy baby girl, according to a paper in the Lancet.

The Lancet reports that the mother had Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, a condition that causes the uterus and vagina to not develop properly.

A team in Brazil transplanted the womb from a dead 45-year-old woman into an infertile 32-year-old recipient, who went on to have a healthy baby girl.

Four months before the transplant, she had in-vitro fertilisation resulting in eight fertilised eggs, which were preserved through freezing. The baby girl was born via caesarean section on December 15, 2017, at 35 weeks of gestation.

While researchers in countries including Sweden and the U.S. have previously succeeded in transplanting wombs from living donors into women who have gone on to give birth, experts said the latest development was a significant advance.

"The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own death are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population".

There have been a total of 39 live donor transplants, resulting in 11 live births in the past five years. In one case in 2011, doctors in Turkey attempted to use a dead donor's womb to carry through a pregnancy, but the expectant mother miscarried two years later, even though the graft appeared healthy.

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".

It's still early days, but so far, there are no complaints.

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Knowing this could make all the difference not just when it comes to deceased donations, but live ones as well. Ten days later, doctors delivered the good news: she was pregnant.

The researchers in Brazil reported that the uterus was ischemic - meaning, off a blood supply - for nearly eight hours, essentially double the reported time from any of the living donor transplants. The surgery to implant the donated uterus took about 10.5 hours to complete.

At the age of seven months, the baby continued to breastfeed and weighed 15lbs and 14oz (7.2 kilos).

Tragically, the pregnancy was determined to be unviable six weeks after conception and was terminated, calling into doubt whether uteruses provided by deceased donors could feasibly carry a new life completely through gestation.

The researchers say that transplants from deceased donors might have some benefits over donations from live donors, including removing surgical risks for a live donor, and that many countries already have well-established national systems to regulate and distribute organ donations from deceased donors.

Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society president Clifford Librach said the challenges of transplant surgery, the need for immunosuppressing drugs to stop organ rejection that could affect the fetus, and other potential risks are big factors that will likely keep this surgery from becoming commonplace. The uterus is removed and immunosuppressants are stopped after birth, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

"Uterine transplant is a novel technique and should be regarded as experimental", he said.

Some who were born without a uterus, other had unexplained malformations, of sustained damaged during childbirth or infection.

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