A woman in Brazil who received a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor gave birth to a girl in the first such case, doctors said.
The case, reported in the medical journal The Lancet, involved connecting veins of the donor's uterus with the recipient's veins, in addition to connecting arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.
It occurs after 10 previously known cases of transplant of deceased donor uterus – in the United States, Czech Republic and Turkey – do not produce a live birth.
The girl born in the Brazilian case was delivered by cesarean section at 35 weeks and three days and weighed 2,550 grams (almost 6 pounds), according to the case study.
Dani Ejzenberg, a University of São Paulo hospital doctor who led the research, said the transplant – performed in September 2016 when the recipient was 32 – shows that the technique is feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to a of potential donors.
The current norm to receive a transplant of uterus is that the organ would come from a family member who was willing to donate it.
"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 population of potential donors," Ejzenberg said in a statement.
She added, however, that the results and effects of uterus donations from living and deceased donors still need to be compared, and said the technique can still be refined and optimized.
The first baby born after a live donor transplant was in Sweden in 2013. So far, scientists have reported a total of 39 such procedures, resulting in 11 live births.
Experts estimate that infertility affects about 10 to 15 percent of reproductive-age couples worldwide. Of this group, about one in 500 women have uterine problems.
Before uterus transplantation became possible, the only options for having a child were adoption or subrogation.
In the Brazilian case, the recipient was born without a uterus due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45 years old and died of a stroke.
Five months after the transplant, Ejzenberg's team wrote, the uterus showed no signs of rejection, the ultrasound was normal and the recipient was menstruating regularly. The woman's previously fertilized and frozen eggs were implanted after seven months and 10 days later she was confirmed pregnant.
At seven months and 20 days – when the case study report was submitted to The Lancet – the girl continued to breastfeed