Researchers in Brazil released a groundbreaking study Tuesday on the first baby born to a woman with a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor.
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 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", Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, a gynecologist in Sao Paulo who led the research, said in a news release. Previous attempts in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the USA have failed.
The 32-year-old woman, who underwent the transplant in September, 2016, was born without a uterus due to Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which affects the reproductive system.
A mother has given birth to a healthy baby girl after surgeons implanted a womb in her body taken from a dead person.
Of this group, one in 500 women have problems with their uterus - due, for example, to a malformation, hysterectomy, or infection - that prevent them from becoming pregnant and carrying a child to term.
He describing the procedure as a "medical milestone".
Although uterus transplants are a growing area of medicine, they remain highly experimental and are very hard surgeries to complete.
The uterus was removed from the donor and transplanted into the recipient in a surgery that also involved connecting the donor uterus and recipient's veins and arteries, ligament and vaginal canals.
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The current need for live donors "is a major limitation as donors are rare, typically being willing and eligible family members or close friends", Dr Ejzenberg said. The donor was 45-years-old and had borne three children in her lifetime before dying of a stroke. The demonstrated success of a procedure involving a deceased donor, he says, may spare live donors from undergoing risky procedures, and make transplants possible for far more women. Fifteen were fertilised, with 8 resulting in embryos that were subsequently preserved for later implantation.
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.
On 15 December 2017, a baby girl weighing 2,550 grams (5.6 pounds) was delivered through Caesarean section.
After the birth both patient and baby appeared healthy and well.
At age seven months and 12 days - when the manuscript reporting the findings was submitted for publication - the baby was breastfeeding and weighed 7.2kg.
Dr Srdjan Saso, from Imperial College London, said the results were "extremely exciting".
"This is a great alternative compared to live donor uterus transplants and therefore a really historic achievement", said Dr. Tullius, who is also a professor of surgery at Harvard University.
Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), said: "The IFFS welcomes this announcement which is an anticipated evolution from live donors with clear advantages and the prospect of increasing supply for women with hitherto untreatable infertility".
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