Medicine

World's first baby born using transplanted uterus from deceased donor

World's first baby born using transplanted uterus from deceased donor

A woman who was transplanted with a deceased donor's womb has given birth to a baby girl, researchers in Brazil say.

But a viable procedure to transplant uteri from deceased women could drastically increase the availability of the organs.

On 15 December 2017, a baby girl weighing 2,550 grams (5.6 pounds) was delivered through Caesarean section.

The woman received the transplant in 2016 from a 45-year-old woman who had three children and died of a stroke. Deceased donor uterus transplants have been attempted in the past few years, but none resulted in the birth of a healthy baby.

The first successful childbirth following uterine transplant from a living donor took place in 2014 in Sweden, and there have been 10 others since then.

"Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility", said Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at the teaching hospital of the University of Sao Paulo.

According to reports, the success of this procedure means that there will be a larger option of donors available for those who have trouble conceiving because of uterine factor infertility.

"The Brazilian group has proven that using deceased donors is a viable option", said the clinic's Dr. Tommaso Falcone, who was involved in the OH case.

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The donated uterus was removed during the delivery, as is typical for such transplants - this way the patient doesn't have to keep taking the medications needed to avoid rejection.

Baylor has had two successful births from live donations; Cleveland Clinic is working toward deceased donations; and her own program will be performing both living and deceased donor transplants over the next year. Within this group about one in 500 women have irreversible infertility - which can be due to a congenital malformation, cancer, or other illness, leading to genetic absence or removal of the uterus.

"Up till now it was not known that uterus can survive more than four hours out of a living body, however, the present case shows that the uterus is a quite strong an organ", Ms Sharma said.

The procedure involved connecting the donor uterus to the veins, arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals of the 32-year-old. Dr Falcone said the fact that the transplant was successful after the uterus was preserved in ice for almost eight hours demonstrated how resilient the uterus is.

"I don't know that they're highlighted enough when we're celebrating these kind of breakthroughs", she said.

In this trial, the mother was given standard doses of immune suppression medications for nearly six months, with positive results, before implantation of the embryo was completed. It's a rare genetic condition, affecting about 4500 women worldwide, in which they are born without a uterus.

But in the case of a uterus transplant from a cadaver, the potential danger for infections is more, says Kamini A. Rao, Medical Director, Milann-The Fertility Centre, Bengaluru.

The authors of the study acknowledge that, as a new medical procedure, there is much further work to be done to make the procedure safer and more efficient. And it's possible that patients won't need as many immunosuppressants as they now receive to stave off organ rejection.