1st baby born using uterus transplanted from deceased donor

Doctors hold a baby girl born to a mother who received a uterus from a deceased donor in Brazil. A novel transplantation procedure may help more infertile women become pregnant

Doctors hold a baby girl born to a mother who received a uterus from a deceased donor in Brazil. A novel transplantation procedure may help more infertile women become pregnant

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.

Before womb transplants became a viable possibility their only options for having a child were adoption or surrogacy.

After the recipient's womb and ovarian are functioning, the embryos are transplanted into her uterus - generally at least one year after the transplant.

The baby girl was delivered last December by a woman born without a uterus because of a rare syndrome.

Previously, there have been 10 other uterus transplants from dead donors attempted in the United States, Czech Republic and Turkey, but this is the first to result in a live birth. The first successful uterine transplant (from a living donor) took place in 2013 in Sweden, and the woman who received the transplant gave birth in 2014.

The case was proof-of-concept that deceased donor uterine transplantation was "a new option for women with uterine infertility" lead researcher and gynaecologist Dr Dani Ejzenberg said.

The current norm for receiving a womb transplant is that the organ would come from a live family member willing to donate it.

"It enables use of a much wider potential donor population, applies lower costs and avoids live donors' surgical risks". With live donors often in short supply, it's hoped this bold breakthrough from Brazil could offer hope to the 1 in 500 people who experience infertility problems from uterine anomalies. "This is a life-giving transplant, a new category", said Dr. Allan D. Kirk, the chief surgeon at Duke University Health System, who was not involved in the research.

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In the case announced on Tuesday, the mother is a 32-year-old female who had congenital infertility.

In 2016, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic transplanted a uterus from a deceased donor, but it failed after an infection developed. But according to the authors, they are the first to have accomplished it with a uterus from a deceased donor (there was a documented attempt in 2011, but the pregnancy ended in miscarriage). This affects approximately 3 to 5 per cent of women, Dr. Tullius said, including those born without a uterus or those who have had hysterectomies for cancer-related reasons. Uterine transplants are considered "ephemeral", meaning they only stay in to allow the recipient to have children and are then removed.

"We are authorized to do two more cases and we are focused on improving our protocol to be able to repeat this success story", Natalie Ehrmann Fusco, a spokesperson for the doctors on the project, told IFLScience.

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

"This was the most important thing in her life", he 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.

Five months after the surgery, the medical team observed no signs of rejection, noting that ultrasound scans were normal and the recipient experienced regular menstruation.

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