One Year Later, Baby Born Via a Uterus Transplant From a Deceased Donor Is Doing Fine

animation of female reproductive system

The capabilities of medical science continue to astound. Nearly one year ago, a baby girl was born using a uterus, or womb, transplanted from a deceased woman.

The transplant occurred in 2016 in Brazil. This marked the first time such a transplant was successful, the BBC reported. In all, there have been 39 womb transplants that have resulted in 11 births. The procedure of womb transplants was pioneered by Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom. Those births were the result of wombs donated by living women, typically mother to daughter, the BBC said. The transplants that involved the wombs from dead donors have failed or resulted in miscarriage, according to the report.

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The woman who received the transplant had Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, which results in the vagina and uterus failing to form properly. Women who have this genetic disorder do not have menstrual periods due to the lack of a uterus.

While she did not have a uterus, her ovaries though, were fine, the BBC noted. The syndrome affects about one in every 4,500 women. Doctors were able to extract her eggs and fertilize them with the father’s sperm and freeze them. According to the BBC, the donor of the womb was a mother of three who died in her mid-40s from bleeding on the brain.

Before the operation, the woman was given immunosuppressants to prevent her immune system from attacking the transplanted womb and causing her body to reject it. Six weeks after the operation, the woman began to have a monthly period. After seven months, the fertilized eggs were implanted in the woman and on Dec. 15, 2017, a baby girl was delivered by Caesarian section.  

After the baby was born, doctors removed the transplanted uterus from the woman so she would no longer have to take the immunosuppressants.

A full analysis of the transplant and additional procedures were published in The Lancet. One year after the baby was born, both she and her mother are doing well, according to reports.

Following the success of this operation, the Brazilian researchers are planning two more uterus transplants, USA Today reported this morning. It was unclear if the uteruses would be donated from living women or deceased ones. With the success of using a dead woman’s uterus, the door has opened for an increased number of attempts at this procedure. Dr. Tommaso Falcone of the Cleveland Clinic, which had unsuccessfully attempted a similar procedure in 2016, said that the success of the Brazilian surgery has proven that using the uterus from a deceased woman is a viable option. Falcone said this may provide a “bigger supply of organs than we thought were possible.”

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