A Brazilian woman who received a womb, transplanted from a deceased donor, has successfully given birth to a baby girl.
The case which was published in The Lancet medical journal involved connecting veins from the donor uterus with the recipient’s veins, as well as linking arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.
According to the case study, the girl born in the Brazilian case was delivered via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed 2,550 grams.
Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at Brazil’s Sao Paulo University hospital who led the research, asserted that the transplant which was carried out in September 2016 when the recipient was 32, shows the technique is feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to a larger pool of potential donors.
Ejzenberg further said, “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.”
She further said, “However, that the outcomes and effects of womb donations from live and deceased donors have yet to be compared,” adding that the technique could still be refined and optimised.
In the case, the recipient had been born without a uterus due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45 and died of a stroke.
Five months after the transplant, Ejzenberg’s team said that the uterus showed no signs of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the recipient was having regular menstruation. The woman’s previously fertilised and frozen eggs were implanted after seven months and 10 days later she was confirmed pregnant.
At seven months and 20 days – when the case study report was submitted to The Lancet – the baby girl was continuing to breastfeed and weighed 7.2 kg (16 lb).
Notably, this comes after 10 previously known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors – in the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey – failed to produce a live birth. The first baby born after a live donor womb transplant was in Sweden in 2013.
Interestingly, scientists have so far reported a total of 39 procedures of this kind, resulting in 11 live births.
Experts estimate that infertility affects around 10 to 15 percent of couples of reproductive age worldwide. Of this group, around one in 500 women have uterine problems. Before uterus transplants became possible, the only options to have a child were adoption or surrogacy.