Scientists have reported the successful first birth of a baby from a transplanted uterus of a deceased donor. The breakthrough may pave the way for many more women with infertility problems.
For some women who receive a uterus, transplantation is the only way to get pregnant. However, so far, getting donations has been limited to volunteer donations.
Low number of donated organs hinders the development of the procedure
Giving a uterus is a serious decision and a complicated procedure. So far, only 39 transplants have been performed worldwide, resulting in only 11 live births since 2013.
Being able to use the womb of deceased patients opens the possibility of more organs being available, but in the ten attempts so far only this latest birth has resulted in a successful delivery.
Scientists at the University of São Paulo have published the case study of transplant and birth success in The Lancet.
Transplant donor born without uterus
The birth mother and the donor-recipient was a 32-year-old woman who was born without a uterus as a result of Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH).
THe was a 42-year-old woman who died of a stroke.
Several months before transplantation, the recipient underwent an in vitro fertilization procedure and had 8 frozen fertilized eggs. The uterus transplant took 10.5 hours to complete.
Healthy baby born without complications
The recipient showed no signs of organ rejection and after five months was undergoing regular menstruation. Seven months after intensive surgery, the fertilized eggs were implanted and a healthy pregnancy was performed.
The girl was born early at 35 weeks by caesarean section, the healthy baby weighed at 2.5 kg (5.5 lb). The donated uterus was also removed during cesarean section.
Using deceased donors opens doors for more fertility treatment
In the months following birth, neither the baby nor the mother had problems.
"The use of deceased donors can greatly expand access to this treatment, and our results provide a proof of concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility," says Dr. Dani Ejzenberg.
Dr. Ejzenberg, from the Hospital das Clínicas of the Medical School of the University of São Paulo, led the research.
"The first live donor uterine transplants were a medical landmark, creating the possibility of birth for many infertile women with access to appropriate donors and the necessary medical facilities.
However, the need for a living donor is an important limitation as donors are rare, usually being willing or eligible family members or close friends.
The number of people willing and willing to donate organs after their own death is far greater than that of living donors, offering a much larger potential donor population. "
Doctors to continue the research
While doctors are thrilled with the results, they warn that the procedure is still in its early stages and will require more research and collaboration before it becomes a widely-spread option for infertile women.
Writing on Linkedin Dr. Antonio Pellicer, IVI-Rome, Italy, noted;
"In sum, research to be done in this field (whether from living or deceased donors) should maximize the rate of live births, minimize risks to patients involved in procedures (donor, recipient and unborn), and increase organ availability .
With field expansion, the number of procedures will increase and this will allow the community to define different types of study projects, such as comparative (ideally randomized) studies or long prospective series.
In an expanding field, such as uterine transplantation, the role of networks and collaborative societies, such as the International Uterine Transplant Society or new interest groups in existing scientific societies, will be crucial. "