In a major breakthrough, a woman from Brazil has become the first in the world to have given birth to a child after a uterus transplant from a deceased donor. The birth of a baby girl’s marks a milestone, opening access for a women with uterine infertility, experts say. “Currently, uterus donation is only available for women with family members who are willing to donate. With life donors in short supply, the new technique might help to increase availability and give more women the option of pregnancy," said reputed British medical journal Lancet.
According to Lancet, Infertility affects 10-15% of couples of reproductive age. Of this group, one in 500 women has uterine anomalies.
The baby girl was delivered last year by a 32 year old woman born without a uterus due to a rare syndrome. According to researchers the woman became pregnant seven months after the transplant through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). The donor was a 45 year old who had died of a haemorrhage.
The uterus was removed from the donor and then transplanted into the recipient in a surgery lasting 10.5 hours. The surgery involved connecting the donor uterus’ and recipient’s veins and arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canals.
Five months after the transplantation, the uterus showed no signs of rejection. The fertilised eggs were implanted after seven months and ten days after implantation, the recipient was confirmed to be pregnant. The baby girl was born via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed almost 3 kgs.
Both-mother and the baby were discharged three days after birth.
The authors note that transplants from deceased donors might have some benefits over donations from live donors, including removing surgical risks for a live donor. In addition, through implanting the fertilised eggs sooner they reduced the amount of time taking immunosuppression drugs, which could help to reduce side effects and costs.
Prior to this, 10 other uterus transplants from deceased donors have been attempted in US, Czech Rpwurblic and Turkey. However this is the first one to have resulted in a livebirth.
Experts say that path breaking procedure will broaden the access to many of whom who would otherwise be left with an option of adoption or surrogacy to have a child.
“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."the lancet quoted the lead researcher Dr Dani Ejzenberg, Hospital das Clínicas, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo. “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.
Experts say that need for a live donor is a major limitation. “The donors are rare, typically being willing and eligible family members or close friends. 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," Dr Ejzenberg has been further quoted.
Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Antonio Pellicer, IVI-Roma, Italy, notes that while the procedure is a breakthrough, it is still in the early stages of refining and many questions are still unsolved. He says: “All in all, the research to be done in this field (whether from alive or deceased donors) should maximise the livebirth rate, minimise the risks for the patients involved in the procedures (donor, recipient, and unborn child), and increase the availability of organs.