World's first birth with transplanted uterus of a dead donor

The first baby born from the uterus of a dead donor, following a successful uterus transplant performed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has been reported on Wednesday.

With the rate of infertility in couples believed to be between 10 to 15 percent, the major options available for women with so-called uterine infertility were adoption or the services of a surrogate mother.

In 2014, a successful uterine transplant from a living donor gave the ability to bear a child and there have been 10 others since then, but there are far more women in need of transplants than there are potential live donors.

With reports of this medical first published in The Lancet, such transplants now seem feasible and could help thousands of women unable to have children due to uterine problems.

"Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility," said Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at the teaching hospital of the University of Sao Paulo.

He described the procedure as a "medical milestone".

"The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own death are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population," he said in a statement.

The recipient, a 32-year-old born without a uterus due to a rare syndrome, received the uterus of a 45-year-old woman who died from a stroke in a surgery that spanned over 10 hours.

Four months before the surgery, the recipient had in-vitro fertilisation resulting in eight fertilised eggs, which were preserved through freezing.

She was given five different drugs, along with antimicrobials, anti-blood clotting treatments, and aspirin to stop her body from rejecting the new organ.

The treatment proved successful, as five months later, the woman was menstruating regularly with ultrasound scans normal.

The fertilised eggs were implanted after seven months. Ten days later, doctors delivered the good news: she was pregnant.

Besides a minor kidney infection   treated with antibiotics during the 32nd week, the pregnancy was normal. After nearly 36 weeks a baby girl weighing 2.5 kilograms (about six pounds) was delivered via caesarean section.

Mother and baby left the hospital three days later.

The transplanted uterus was removed during the C-section, allowing the woman to stop taking the immunosuppressive drugs.

At age seven months and 12 days when the manuscript reporting the findings was submitted for publication the baby was breastfeeding and weighed 7.2 kilograms.

"We must congratulate the authors," commented Dr. Srdjan Saso, an honorary clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, describing the findings as "extremely exciting".

Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, also welcomed the announcement but sounded a note of caution.

"Uterine transplant is a novel technique and should be regarded as experimental," he said.

Additional reporting from AFP news agency

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