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

Doctors hold a baby girl born to a mother who received a uterus from a deceased donor in Brazil. A novel transplantation procedure may help more infertile women become pregnant

Brazilian doctors delivered the world's first baby born using a uterus transplant from a dead donor. The baby girl was born in Brazil via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed around 6lbs.

Five months before the transplant, the recipient had sixteen eggs from her own functional ovaries removed.

The mother was a 32-year-old woman with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome - a condition that causes female sexual reproductive organs, such as the uterus and vagina, to be underdeveloped or absent at birth. The woman's previously fertilised and frozen eggs were implanted after seven months and 10 days later she was confirmed pregnant.

In the past few years surgeons have attempted 10 other womb transplants from deceased donors in the US, Czech Republic and Turkey, but none have been successful. A total of 39 transplants have resulted in 11 live births - with the first taking place in Sweden in 2013.

Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at Brazil's Sao Paulo University hospital who led the research, said the transplant shows the technique is feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to a larger pool of potential donors.

"Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility", Ejzenberg said. "While uterine transplantation sounds extreme, it can be indicated in women born without a uterus, or in women who have a non-functional or surgically-absent uterus".

It was then transplanted to the woman who was given medication to weaken her immune system so her body would not reject the uterus.

The baby was born around 36 weeks of pregnancy and is "healthy and developing", along with the mother, the paper says.

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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.

IVF Australia medical director Associate Professor Peter Illingworth said using deceased donors avoided the need for women to undergo major surgery and the risk of complications in order to donate their uterus to their loved one.

"Successful pregnancy, without evidence of any compromise in spite of the uterus (womb) being without oxygen for eight hours before transplant, was unique".

They are also confident future transplant attempts will help doctors learn the intricacies of pregnancies at every stage.

After surgery, the anonymous recipient remained in intensive care for two days before spending another six days on a specialised transplant ward.

After five months, the uterus showed no sign of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the woman was menstruating regularly.

There is still so much testing to be done, and researchers say there is so much important information to be learned from the procedure.

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. "It is also a source of hope for those patients who [do not have a uterus] or who have lost it unexpectedly and do not have a family member or close friend to donate the uterus".

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