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First baby born using uterus transplanted from dead donor a 'resounding success'

05 December 2018

A Brazilian baby will celebrate her first birthday later this month, less than two years after her mother-unable to carry a pregnancy because she lacked a uterus-underwent a transplant from a deceased donor.

The baby was delivered in Brazil last December, after the mother received a womb from a 45-year-old woman who died of a stroke.

Surgeons spent 10.5 hours plumbing in the organ by connecting veins, arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals. He added: "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". Currently, only 10 known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors exist, but all had failed to produce a live birth.

"We are authorized to do two more cases and we are focused on improving our protocol to be able to repeat this success story", Natalie Ehrmann Fusco, a spokesperson for the doctors on the project, told IFLScience.

Dr Dani Ejzenberg, from Hospital das Clínicas in Sao Paolo, said: "The first uterus transplants from live donors were a medical milestone, creating the possibility of childbirth for many infertile women with access to suitable donors and the needed medical facilities".

To prevent her body from rejecting the new organ, the woman was given five different drugs, along with antimicrobials, anti-blood clotting treatments, and aspirin. But they said that relying on deceased donors could expand the options for women who do not have a friend or family member willing to donate or that would be a good match.

Four months before her transplant surgery she underwent an IVF cycle which resulted in eight embryos.

Ultrasound scans showed no abnormalities and she was menstruating regularly. About a dozen babies have now been born from uteruses provided by living donors-usually the recipient's mother, sister or friend-out of about 50 attempts worldwide.

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The miracle baby girl was born in Brazil via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, weighing around 6lbs.

After the birth both patient and baby appeared healthy and well.

The authors of The Lancet paper note that uterus transplants involve major surgery and high doses of immunosuppression drugs, and recipients need to be healthy to avoid complications during or after the procedure.

Researchers in Turkey performed a uterine transplant in 2011 from a deceased donor but have not had any successful pregnancies.

Doctors believe the procedure could help infertile women whose only options now are surrogacy or adoption.

He said: "All in all, the research to be done in this field (whether from alive or deceased donors) should maximise the live birth rate, minimise the risks for the patients involved in the procedures (donor, recipient, and unborn child), and increase the availability of organs".

"They should promote education and guidance so that the groups performing uterus transplantation for the first time can benefit from the experience of the pioneers".

Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), said: "The IFFS welcomes this announcement which is an anticipated evolution from live donors with clear advantages and the prospect of increasing supply for women with hitherto untreatable infertility".

First baby born using uterus transplanted from dead donor a 'resounding success'