A 32-year-old woman in Brazil who received a uterus transplant from a deceased donor successfully carried out a pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby, researchers reported on Wednesday. The case was announced in a published research paper by The Lancet medical journal.
Performed in 2016 in Brazil, the transplant could provide new hope to thousands of women who are unable to have children due to uterine problems. Currently, only 10 known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors exist, but all had failed to produce a live birth.
The recipient was born without a uterus, due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45-years-old and had borne three children in her lifetime before dying of a stroke.
In a transplant surgery that lasted more than ten hours, doctors had to connect the donor's uterus with the veins, arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canal of the recipient.
The woman was given five different drugs, along with antimicrobials, anti-blood clotting treatments and aspirin, to prevent her body from rejecting the new organ.
Five months after the surgery, the medical team observed no signs of rejection, noting that ultrasound scans were normal and the recipient experienced regular menstruation. The woman then became pregnant through in vitro fertilization with her own eggs, which she had previously frozen.
A baby girl was born, delivered via caesarean section, at 35 weeks and three days, weighing 2,550 grams (nearly 6 lbs), the case study reported.
When the report was submitted to The Lancet journal, the baby was seven months and 20 days old, continuing to breastfeed and weighed 7.2 kg.
Read more: Will India cease to be a surrogacy hub?
Hope for women with uterine disorders
Dani Ejzenberg, the transplant team's lead doctor at the University Of Sao Paulo School Of Medicine described the procedure as a "medical milestone."
"Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility," Ejzenberg said.
"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," he added.
Scientists have so far reported some 39 uterus transplants, which have resulted in 11 live births. The first baby born after one of these procedures was in Sweden in 2013, as part of an experimental study led by Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom.
It is estimated that between 10 to 15 percent of couples of reproductive age worldwide are affected by infertility. The causes vary, but for one in 500 women, uterine problems are the cause.
jcg/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)