First baby born following uterus transplant from deceased donor: case study
A baby's hand is shown in this file photo. (marctranvn / Istock.com)
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2018 6:30PM EST
In what is believed to be a world first, a woman in Brazil gave birth to a healthy baby girl after receiving a uterus transplant from a deceased donor.
Researchers say the case study, published Tuesday in The Lancet, shows that such transplants from deceased donors are feasible and may increase options for women struggling with uterine infertility.
The 32-year-old woman, who underwent the transplant in September, 2016, was born without a uterus due to Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which affects the reproductive system.
The donor was a 45-year-old woman who had three previous pregnancies and died of a stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain.
The uterus transplant surgery, a first in Latin America, took more than 10 hours to complete. The recipient tolerated the transplant relatively well thanks to immunosuppression drugs, other treatments and constant monitoring.
The recipient had her first menstruation 37 days after the uterus transplant, and continued to have regular cycles after that. Seven months after the transplant, the woman’s fertilized eggs were implanted into the uterus, resulting in pregnancy.
There were no major issues during the pregnancy and no signs of organ rejection. The baby girl was born via caesarean section on Dec. 15, 2017, at 35 weeks of gestation. The healthy infant weighed around six pounds at birth, and continues to develop normally.
The donated uterus was removed during the C-section and the woman’s wound healed well, the researchers say.
They say that 10 other uterus transplants from deceased donors were performed in the U.S., Turkey and Czech Republic, but none of them resulted in live births.
“The use of deceased donors could greatly broaden access to this treatment, and our results provide proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility,” Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, a gynecologist in Sao Paulo who led the research, said in a news release.
He said live uterus donors are rare and typically eligible family members or close friends of women seeking the transplant.
“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 said.
The first childbirth following a uterus transplant occurred in 2013 in Sweden, where a total of eight children have been born thanks to transplants from live donors.
So far, there have been 39 uterus transplants from live donors around the world, resulting in 11 births.
The authors of The Lancet paper note that uterus transplants involve major surgery and high doses of immunosuppression drugs, and recipients need to be healthy to avoid complications during or after the procedure.