A woman in Brazil is the first in the world to give birth following a uterus transplant from a deceased donor in a medical milestone that potentially offers another treatment option for women with uterine-related infertility.
Infertility affects one in seven people in Britain, and while some problems can be solved through IVF, most women with womb issues have no alternative but adoption or surrogacy. The transplanted uterus was removed during the cesarean delivery and showed no anomalies.
The woman had been born with a rare genetic condition that left her without a uterus, known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, but she was otherwise healthy.
The donor was 45 years old and died of bleeding on the brain, caused by a stroke.
In this study, recently deceased women who had given consent for organ transplant were screened based on previous ability to give birth, blood type, and a lack of any history of sexual disease.
The woman, 32, was initially scared of the procedure, said Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, who is the transplant team's lead doctor at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, as AP reported.
Uterine transplants from living donors have occurred before. Most transplant teams envision one day using uteruses from both living and deceased donors. Likewise, the mother's health required months of ongoing monitoring to ensure that she didn't suffer any adverse effects from having the uterus transplanted and then later removed.
A mother has given birth to a healthy baby girl after surgeons implanted a womb in her body taken from a dead person.
The first birth after a womb transplant from a living donor took place in Sweden in September 2013.
"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", said Ejzenberg, according to Reuters. Shortly thereafter, surgeons performed a uterus transplant, connecting the donor organ to the recipient's veins, arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals during a surgery that lasted more than 10 hours.
The baby girl was born in December 2017, but had to be closely monitored to ensure she was meeting appropriate developmental milestones.
"There are still lots of things we don't understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant", said Dr. Cesar Diaz, who co-authored an accompanying commentary in the journal.
Uterus donations right now are only available to women who have family members that can donate to them.
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.
"This is not in the case of a kidney or liver transplant, clearly because the vagina is an exposed area and since you are unable to identify what kind of organisms were growing, there is a potential danger for rejection", Ms Rao added.
Five months was given to ensure that the uterus transplant was successful.
"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.