World’s first baby born via womb transplant from deceased donor

Henrietta Strickland
December 7, 2018

A baby has been born using a uterus transplanted from a dead donor for the first time, offering hope to those unable to conceive.

The recipient had Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, which affects about one in every 4500 women and results in the vagina and uterus (womb) failing to form properly.

Doctors say the woman had a healthy and fairly typical pregnancy, before giving birth via c-section to a six-pound baby girl past year.

"The results establish proof-of-concept for treating uterine infertility by transplantation from a deceased donor, opening a path to healthy pregnancy for all women with uterine factor infertility, without need of living donors or live donor surgery", Brazilian researchers said in the study published Tuesday in the medical journal The Lancet. The live donors need to be family members of the woman and be willing to donate, as per the current practice.

She added that the outcomes and effects of womb donations from live and deceased donors have yet to be compared. However, a woman who received a live uterine transplant gave birth to a baby boy in 2017, making it a first for the U.S. Ten deceased donor uterus transplants had been attempted and failed in the US, Czech Republic and Turkey.

The study is also the first uterine transplantation in Latin America.

Surgeons spent 10.5 hours plumbing in the organ by connecting veins, arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.

The donated uterus was removed during the C-section and the woman's wound healed well, the researchers say.

The authors note that transplants from deceased donors might have some benefits over donations from live donors, including removing surgical risks for a live donor. The uterus is removed and immunosuppressants are stopped after birth, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The surgery took place in September 2016.

After surgery, the recipient stayed in intensive care for two days, then spent six days on a specialised transplant ward. Falcone said the fact that the transplant was successful after the uterus was preserved in ice for almost eight hours demonstrated how resilient the uterus is.

Two months later eight fertilised eggs were implanted into the womb.

The study was welcomed by British fertility expert Dr Srdjan Saso, part of the Womb Transplant UK team, who said: "Our hope, as we plan to kick-start the UK programme at the beginning of 2019, is for the deceased donor uterine transplant programme to grow alongside its "live donor" counterpart". Previous live donor transplantation have waited at least a year before attempting a pregnancy.

Women who have irreversible infertility are the primary candidates to receive a transplant.

But Dr. Tullius said surrogacy comes with its own challenges, from compensation to the ethics of asking a woman to undergo the rigours of pregnancy.

It's hard to say definitively whether this shorter wait time made a difference, but the courses of antirejection drugs and antibiotics potentially pose all sorts of complications for the body that just might sway the odds for a developing embryo.

At the age of seven months and 20 days, when the case report was written, the baby was breastfeeding and weighed 7.2kg (15lbs 14oz).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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