First baby born using uterus transplanted from deceased donor

The medical team after the baby's birth

The medical team after the baby's birth. Divulgação Hospital das Clínicas da FMUSP

The world's first baby born to a woman who had a uterus transplant from a deceased donor shows that such transplants can be successful, Brazilian doctors say.

The uterus was removed from the donor and then transplanted into the recipient in surgery lasting 10.5 hours.

The baby girl was born in Brazil via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed around 6lbs. Almost a year later, the researchers say that neither the mother nor the child have experienced any complications or abnormalities. Ten deceased donor uterus transplants had been attempted and failed in the US, Czech Republic and Turkey.

The transplant took place in September of 2016.

"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. The baby was born on 5 December 2017, but the case study has only recently been published.

So far, there have been 39 uterus transplants from live donors around the world, resulting in 11 births.

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.

Research has since continued, with informed volunteers still opting to go through the discomfort and potential trauma in the hopes of giving birth.

"They should promote education and guidance so that the groups performing uterus transplantation for the first time can benefit from the experience of the pioneers".

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While researchers in countries including Sweden and the USA 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.

Stuart Lavery, a consultant gynaecologist at Hammersmith hospital who was not involved in the latest study, said the birth was "quite a significant step", noting that using wombs from deceased donors improves safety.

Currently, uterus donation is only available for women with family members who are willing to donate. Five months after the uterus showed no signs of rejection, the doctors were able to implant the woman's previously fertilised and frozen eggs and 10 days later she was confirmed pregnant.

Unlike most transplantation surgeries "this is not a matter of life and death but more to satisfy a woman's desire to carry a child", Professor Salamonsen said.

Ejzenberg said that finding a living donor could also be hard, while coordinating operations was logistically challenging. He also tried the procedure on a second Brazilian woman, but she had to have the uterus removed two days after the operation because of complications.

She added, however, that the outcomes and effects of womb donations from live and deceased donors have yet to be compared, and said the technique could still be refined and optimised.

"There is always a potential risk for the one who gives the uterus".

According to data included in the new report, among infertile couples, one in 500 have uterine infertility due to factors such as birth defects, hysterectomy or infection.

It is hoped that this, the first ever uterine transplant involving a deceased donor and the first uterine transplantation in Latin America, could enable more women struggling with fertility issues to undergo treatment without having to wait for a live donor.

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