World's first baby born to a mother after womb transplant from a dead uterus donor

Past attempts at transplanting wombs from deceased donors have failed entirely or ended in miscarriage.

After 10 failed attempts in the past, the first healthy baby born using a uterus transplanted from a dead person came into the world wailing and healthy.

While womb transplants from living uterus donors' eleven successful attempts in the past, all ten attempts at achieving similar success with transplanted wombs from deceased women have either failed entirely or led to miscarriages.

In this case, the transplant operation, which lasted 10 long hours, was following by fertility treatments at the Hospital das Clínicas in São Paulo, Brazil, starting 2016.

The mother’s ovaries were healthy, but her reproductive system was otherwise hostile for her to get pregnant and carry the baby to term without some help. The 32-year-old woman was born without a womb — a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, where the vagina and uterus fail to form completely. This makes the partially-developed uterus an unfit environment to have a healthy pregnancy.

A C-section baby moments after delivery.

A C-section baby moments after delivery.

Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome affects about one in every 4,500 women worldwide.

The dead donor of the womb was a 42-year-old mother of three who passed away from an episode of brain haemorrhaging or bleeding in the brain.

Doctors at the hospital were able to remove healthy eggs from the soon-to-be-mother's ovaries and fertilised them with the father’s sperm.

The fertilised eggs, or zygotes, were then frozen for a few weeks till the mother’s new uterus was accepted by her body's immune system and responsive to the fertility treatments. Six weeks after the uterus from the deceased donor was transplanted, the 32-year old to-be-mother began to have her period.

The 2.5-kg nugget born thanks to a uterus transplant from a dead donor. Image: Sao Paolo

The 2.5-kg nugget born thanks to a uterus transplant from a dead donor. Image: Sao Paolo

Over the following seven months, the doctors saw the transplant as successful, at the end of which the frozen eggs were implanted and a pregnancy had begun. The pregnancy appeared normal to doctors every step of the way, ending in a wailing, healthy, 2.5-kilogram baby on 15 December 2017 in a Caesarian (C-section).

"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,” Dr Dani Ejzenberg, from Hospital das Clínicas in São Paulo, told BBC.

"It enables the use of a much wider potential donor population, applies lower costs and avoids live donors' surgical risks."

The doctors reported the procedure in a detailed study published in The Lancet.

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