Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Mother Gives Birth Using Transplanted Uterus

Mother Gives Birth Using Transplanted Uterus

A woman who was transplanted with a deceased donor's womb has given birth to a baby girl, researchers in Brazil say.

The mother was a 32-year-old woman with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome - a condition that causes female sexual reproductive organs, such as the uterus and vagina, to be underdeveloped or absent at birth.

In this case the 61 year old donor was alive and well at the time, generously giving up her uterus for the cutting-edge operation.

The woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization seven months after the transplant.

The baby was delivered by C-section 35 weeks and three days after the woman was impregnated. The live donors need to be family members of the woman and be willing to donate, as per the current practice. Until now, only uterus transplants from living donors have led to successful births. On the other hand, the researchers state that transplants from deceased donors might have some benefits over donations from live donors. Ten deceased donor uterus transplants had been attempted and failed in the US, Czech Republic and Turkey. Most obviously, doctors do not have to worry about the donor's heath.

"The use of deceased donors could greatly broaden access to this treatment, and our results provide proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility", Ejzenberg said in a journal news release.

The whole field of uterus transplantation is in its early days. "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".

Person involved with the case say that the new findings show that a uterus transplanted from deceased donors is feasible and opens access to women with uterine infertility without needing to have a live donor.

Professor Lois Salamonsen, research group head of endometrial remodelling and Adjunct Professor at Monash University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology said she had received a few calls form Australian women over the years asking why uterine transplantation wasn't done in Australia.

"There are still lots of things we don't understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant", said Dr. Cesar Diaz told USA Today.

At the age of seven months, the baby continued to breastfeed and weighed 15lbs and 14oz (7.2 kilos).

The first successful live uterus transplant took place in Sweden, in 2014, prompting a rise in uterus transplant programs across the world, wrote the authors of the case study.

The Cleveland program is continuing to use deceased donors.

One U.S. fertility expert said the success in this case really could be a breakthrough.

She received five immunosuppression drugs to prevent her body rejecting the new organ, as well as other treatments to combat infection and blood clotting. Upon encountering a suitable candidate and donor, doctors must act quickly to remove the uterus and transport it to the patient.

"The first uterus transplants from live donors were a medical milestone", added Dr Ejzenberg. Once removed, the surgical team had to connect up the donor uterus with the recipient.

However, he cautioned: "Uterine transplantation is a novel technique and should be regarded as experimental".

No. In order to keep the uterus after birth, the mother would have to continue taking immune system suppression medications which can pose risks.

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