Doctors reported the first living child born to a woman who received a uterus transplant from a deceased donor yesterday (December 4) in a case study in The Lancet.
The transplant occurred in a São Paulo, Brazil, hospital in September 2016. The recipient, a 32-year-old woman, has a syndrome that had left her without a womb. Seven months later, doctors implanted an in-vitro fertilized embryo. Following a normal pregnancy, the mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl by Caesarean section on December 15, 2017.
Uterine transplants are still a fairly new procedure. The first baby born from a uterus transplanted from a living donor was delivered at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden in 2014. BBC News reports that 39 such transplants have since resulted in 11 births.
The infant in Brazil represents the first case of a live birth from a deceased donor, a 45-year-old woman who had three of her own children. Reuters reports that this procedure has been attempted 10 times previously without a successful birth.
Transplanting a uterus when the donor has died is trickier than using one supplied by a living woman, STAT reports. The uterus has a limited life after its blood supply has been cut off and will need to survive while tests ensure the organ is a good match and doctors complete the operation.
The ability to reliably use wombs from dead donors may expand access to transplants. “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,” says lead researcher Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at Hospital das Clínicas in São Paulo, Brazil, in a statement.
STAT notes that this access could allow pregnancy for women without uteruses, including transgender women, or those whose womb is damaged.