Medical marvel

In remarkable first, woman gives birth after receiving uterus transplant from a deceased donor

Doctors at a hospital in São Paulo, Brazil, hold a baby girl born to a mother who received a uterus from a deceased donor. (Divulgação Hospital das Clínicas da FMUSP)

A woman has successfully given birth after receiving a uterus transplant from a deceased donor, a first that researchers said could potentially widely expand availability of such procedures if proven reliable.

According to a report published in the Lancet, doctors at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil removed the uterus from a 45-year-old woman who died from a brain hemorrhage and transplanted into a 32-year-old woman who suffered from Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, a disorder that left her without a uterus. Seven months later, the woman successfully became pregnant via in-vitro fertilization and gave birth via C-section on December 15, 2017.

Since 2014, when doctors first managed to help a woman give birth via a transplanted uterus, about a dozen babies have been born through the procedure worldwide. In all previous successful cases, however, the uteruses came from living women. In order to be a donor, those women had to undergo a radical hysterectomy — a complicated surgery of at least four to six hours that comes with a margin of risk of complications. Such transplants are known as “ephemeral” because the transplanted uterus is removed from the recipients after they give birth to children.

“The use of deceased donors could greatly broaden access to this treatment,” said lead researcher on the trial, Dr. Dani Ejzenberg. “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.”

Read the full story at STAT.

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