Researchers in Brazil released a groundbreaking study Tuesday on the first baby born to a woman with a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor. He added: "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". The in-vitro fertilized eggs were implanted seven months post-surgery. There have been previous attempts to birth a child using a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor, however, all have proved unsuccessful.
What is a uterus transplant?
A womb transplant is performed by removing the womb from the donor and transplanting it into the recipient by connecting the two major veins and a series of arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals, according to The Lancet.
The recipient in the groundbreaking case was a 32-year-old woman born without a womb due to a rare genetic disorder.
Ten previous attempts using deceased donors in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the USA have failed.
"I'd have to say it's in the pipelines but there are easier ways to have children like finding a surrogate or adopting", she said.
The baby was born at the Hospital Das Clinicas at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil.
In 2016, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic transplanted a uterus from a deceased donor, but it failed after an infection developed. For future procedures he hopes to cut down on the time to transplant by removing the uterus before other organs, like the heart and kidneys.
After surgery, the anonymous recipient remained in intensive care for two days before spending another six days on a specialised transplant ward.
The group of women who would benefit from a uterus transplant is very small. In Sweden in 2014, doctors for the time time helped a woman with a transplanted uterus give birth; since then, there have been about a dozen such babies born around the world. A research team at Baylor College of Medicine has shown other organs do not suffer if the uterus is removed first, he says, noting that in the successful transplant he had to wait three hours before getting access to the uterus.
And, after a normal pregnancy, a 2.5 kilogram baby was delivered by Caesarean section on 15 December 2017.
"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.
But there are far more women in need of transplants than there are potential live donors, so doctors wanted to find out if the procedure could work using the uterus of a woman who had died. Almost a year later, the researchers say that neither the mother nor the child have experienced any complications or abnormalities. According to the authors of the case study, around one in 500 women have infertility associated with the womb.
Is a uterus transplant permanent?
Before uterus transplants became possible, the only options to have a child were adoption or surrogacy. It was also the first uterine transplantation in Latin America.
In the end, they held off an additional month after tests suggested the lining of the donor uterus wasn't quite thick enough to support implantation.