The first women to receive a womb from a cadaver gave birth to a healthy baby in Brazil
For the first time in history, a woman born without a uterus underwent a successful organ transplant from a deceased donor – and a year later gave birth to a healthy baby.
Ten previous attempts around the world to transplant a dead person’s womb have failed in recent years.
According to a new study published in The Lancet, doctors and scientists at the Hospital das Clínicas at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil successfully transplanted a uterus from a deceased 45-year-old woman who suffered a stroke to a 32-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, which causes an under-developed or completely absent uterus.
The surgery, which took place in 2016, lasted ten hours and involved connecting the organ to various arteries, veins, and ligaments in addition to the existing vaginal canal. Five months after the surgery, the woman experienced a menstrual cycle for the first time.
The woman’s body accepted the uterus with the help of immunosuppressants, and after seven months of recovery from the operation, doctors performed IVF on the woman — who has fully-functioning ovaries, healthy eggs, and external sex organs.
“The results provide proof-of-concept for a new treatment option for absolute uterine factor infertility,” wrote co-authors Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, an ob/gyn at the University of Sao Paulo and Hospital das Clínicas in Brazil, and Dr. Wellington Andraus, a transplant surgeon at the Sao Paulo University School of Medicine in the study.
The cadaver donor was chosen because she had had three vaginal births and was otherwise healthy with a functioning uterus. She also had a matching blood type.
A healthy baby girl, weighing almost six pounds, was delivered via c-section a year ago, at 35 weeks development, both decisions in order to limit risks to both mother and baby. The donor uterus was removed at the time of the birth, so that the mother could cease taking immunosuppressants.
At the time of the study’s writing, the baby was healthy, breastfeeding and growing normally — and in two weeks, she’s celebrate her first birthday. The baby’s mother has suffered no complications.
Although several womb transplants have been successful, the first on in Sweden in 2013, this establishes that a deceased donor can be utilized. It gives hope to the one in 4,500 women born with an under-developed or absent uterus, and other women with uterine issues that prevent them from carrying a child. It will especially help women who don’t have a living relative willing and able to donate an organ.