In a medical first, a mother who received a uterus transplant from a dead donor gave birth to a healthy baby. The breakthrough operation, performed in September 2016 in Sao Paulo, 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. The case, published in The Lancet medical journal, involved connecting veins from the donor uterus with the recipient’s veins, as well as linking arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canals. It comes after 10 previously known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors — in the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey — failed to produce a live birth.
Experts said using uteruses from women who have died could make more transplants possible. Ten previous attempts using deceased donors in the Czech Republic, Turkey, and the U.S. have failed.
The baby girl was delivered last December by a woman born without a uterus because of a rare syndrome. The woman – a 32-year-old psychologist – was initially apprehensive about the transplant, said Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, the transplant team’s lead doctor at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine.
“This was the most important thing in her life,” he said. “Now she comes in to show us the baby and she is so happy,”
The woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization seven months after the transplant. The donor was a 45-year-old woman who had three children and died of a stroke.
The recipient, who was not identified, gave birth by cesarean section. Doctors also removed the womb, partly so the woman would no longer have to take anti-rejection medicines. Nearly a year later, mother and baby are both healthy.
Two more transplants are planned as part of the Brazilian study. Details of the first case were published Tuesday in the medical journal Lancet.
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