World's first baby born via womb transplant from dead donor

A team in Brazil transplanted the womb from a dead 45-year-old woman into an infertile 32-year-old recipient, who went on to have a healthy baby girl.

The mother was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a rare condition that caused her to be born without a uterus.

Experts say using uteruses from women who have died could make more transplants possible.

Before the transplant, the woman underwent in vitro fertilization, resulting in eight fertilized eggs that were frozen. She gave birth to a baby girl on December 15, 2017, by caesarean section.

The current norm for receiving a womb transplant is that the organ would come from a live family member willing to donate it. In one case in 2011, doctors in Turkey attempted to use a dead donor's womb to carry through a pregnancy, but the expectant mother miscarried two years later, even though the graft appeared healthy.

The oldest child born via uterine transplant - a boy - had just had his fourth birthday.

It said the case involved connecting veins from the donor's uterus with the recipient's veins, as well as linking arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canals.

World first: Until this point, only uterus transplants from living donors had led to successful births.

The woman received five immunosuppression drugs, as well as antimicrobials, anti-blood clotting treatment and aspirin while in hospital, and immunosuppression was continued up until the woman gave birth. Upon encountering a suitable candidate and donor, doctors must act quickly to remove the uterus and transport it to the patient.

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The researchers in Brazil reported that the uterus was ischemic - meaning, off a blood supply - for nearly eight hours, essentially double the reported time from any of the living donor transplants.

The uterus transplant surgery, a first in Latin America, took more than 10 hours to complete.

After surgery, the recipient stayed in intensive care for two days, then spent six days on a specialised transplant ward.

Eleven previous births have used a transplanted uterus, but they were from a living-not a deceased-woman, who was usually a relative or a friend, according to The Associated Press.

Five months after transplantation, the uterus showed no signs of rejection, and the recipient started having periods.

No. In order to keep the uterus after birth, the mother would have to continue taking immune system suppression medications which can pose risks. He added: "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".

Of this group, one in 500 women have problems with their uterus - due, for example, to a malformation, hysterectomy, or infection - that prevent them from becoming pregnant and carrying a child to term.

Pregnancy was confirmed 10 days after implantation, said the medical team. "With life donors in short supply, the new technique might help to increase availability and give more women the option of pregnancy", said reputed British medical journal Lancet.

At the age of seven months and 20 days, when the case report was written, the baby was breastfeeding and weighed 7.2kg (15lbs 14oz).

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