Sao Paulo DEC 5: First time in a medical history, a mother who received a uterus transplant from a dead donor gave birth to a healthy baby.
The breakthrough operation, performed two years ago in Brazil, shows that such transplants are feasible and could help thousands of women unable to have children due to uterine problems, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal.
Until recently, the only options available to women with so-called uterine infertility were adoption or the services of a surrogate mother. The first successful childbirth following uterine transplant from a living donor took place in 2013 in Sweden, and there have been 10 others since then.
There are far more women in need of transplants than there are potential live donors, so doctors wanted to find out if the procedure could work using the uterus of a woman who had died. Ten attempts were made -- in the United States, the Czech Republic, and Turkey -- before the success reported on Wednesday.
Infertility affects 10- to 15 per cent of couples. Of this group, one in 500 women have problems with their uterus, like malformation, hysterectomy, or infection, that prevent them from becoming pregnant and carrying a child to term.
“Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility," said Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at the teaching hospital of the University of Sao Paulo. He describing the procedure as a "medical milestone".
"The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own death are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population," he said in a statement.
The 32-year-old recipient was born without a uterus as a result of a rare syndrome. Four months before the transplant, she had in-vitro fertilization resulting in eight fertilized eggs, which were preserved through freezing. The donor was a 45-year-old woman who died from a stroke.Her uterus was removed and transplanted in surgery that lasted more than ten hours. The surgical team had to connect the donor's uterus with the veins, arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canal of the recipient. After five months, the uterus showed no sign of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the woman was menstruating regularly.
The fertilized eggs were implanted after seven months. Ten days later, doctors delivered the good news: she was pregnant. After nearly 36 weeks a baby girl weighing 2.5 kilograms (about six pounds) was delivered via caesarean section.
"We must congratulate the authors," commented Dr. Srdjan Saso, an honorary clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynecology at Imperial College London, describing the findings as "extremely exciting”.