A woman from Texas with a transplanted uterus has given birth, marking a watershed medical success in the United States.
The New York Times reports that the mother was born without a uterus and received the organ from a living donor last year at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. And at Baylor last month, she gave birth to a baby boy via caesarian section.
It is the first time that a child has been born to a woman with a transplanted uterus in the United States. But another eight women who had uterus transplants have given birth since 2014 — all of them at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, which pioneered the procedure, according to The Washington Post.
Uterine transplants have been hailed as potentially life-altering for women who do not have a uterus, either because they were born without one, or because they had to have it removed due to cancer, complications from childbirth, or other health issues. The fact that the transplant procedure was successfully reproduced in the U.S. is an important step forward, according to doctors who have worked on the surgery.
“To make the field grow and expand and have the procedure come out to more women, it has to be reproduced,” Dr. Liza Johannesson, a uterus transplant surgeon who left the Swedish hospital to assist with the recent birth at Baylor, told the Times.
The Baylor team has been working to advance the procedure, experimenting with donated uteri that did not come from family members. American doctors have also shortened the time between a woman’s transplant surgery and the start of in vitro fertilization, a fertility treatment that uterine transplant patients require to conceive, since their ovaries do not connect to the uterus.
Clinical trials at Baylor have seen eight women receive a transplanted uterus. In four of those cases, the transplants failed and the uterus had to be removed. Two patients are trying to conceive, and another is pregnant.
The transplants are intended to be temporary, so patients do not have to take the immune-suppressing drugs that prevent organ rejection for a prolonged period of time. Doctors leave the transplanted uteri in place only until the recipients have given birth to a child, perhaps two. There are, of course, risks associated with the surgeries, for both the donor and the recipient. But to date, the procedure has helped nine women become mothers — something that would have been impossible just a few years ago. Doctors have not revealed the identity of the mother, but they did note that the donor is a 36-year-old nurse who has two children.
Appearing on CBS This Morning on Monday, Dr. Tara Narula spoke about the hope this medical feat brings to thousands of American women who are unable to conceive because of similar conditions. She also explains the complicated process of achieving a pregnancy after a woman undergoes a uterus transplant. Watch below.
Baylor University Medical Center was also excited about the news of this new bundle of joy and posted a video on Facebook that has amassed more than 150,000 views. Watch it below.