The first-ever baby in the United States to be born from a transplanted uterus was successfully delivered in Dallas, Texas. The mother, a woman who was born without a uterus, received the organ from a living donor as part of an ongoing uterine transplant clinical trial designed to help women with absolute uterine factor infertility (AUI).
This groundbreaking achievement occurred at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, a part of Baylor Scott & White Health, which conducts the uterus transplant clinical trial through Baylor Scott & White Research Institute.
According to Baylor University Medical Center, this landmark birth marks an important milestone in the effort to help women with AUI, a condition in which the uterus is underdeveloped and doesn’t function properly, or is simply absent. The clinical trial, conducted over the past year and a half, enlists patients with AUI who undergo in vitro fertilization, followed by a uterus transplant from an either living or deceased donor.
This cutting-edge technique offers hope to women suffering from AUI or who had their uterus removed due to other medical conditions, such as certain types of cancer or childbirth complications. Most of the women involved in the Baylor trial have a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, which impairs the function of the uterus. For these patients, a uterine transplant is the best option to conceive a child and deliver it to term.
The newborn baby, a healthy boy delivered through Caesarean section, is not only the first in the U.S. to be born following a uterine transplant but also the first live birth in the hospital’s clinical trial, which aims to complete a total of 10 uterus transplants, Time reports.
“I’ve delivered a lot of babies, but this one was special,” Dr. Robert T. Gunby Jr., obstetrician and gynecologist at Baylor, said in a statement.
Dr. Gregory J. McKenna, a transplant surgeon at Baylor, also chimed in on the landmark birth that opens a new frontier for women who are otherwise unable to have children.
“Outside my own children, this is the most excited I’ve ever been about any baby being born,” he said.
To date, Baylor has performed eight uterine transplants, four of which have been unsuccessful. However, the program boasts a second pregnancy in another patient who has received a uterus transplant, while two other recipients — one of whom received the organ from a deceased donor — are presently trying to conceive, the New York Times disclosed.
The uterus transplant trial is led by Dr. Giuliano Testa, surgical chief of abdominal transplant for Baylor Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute. Testa says the medical center has seen its fair share of successful transplants, but that this particular case of uterine transplantation — which resulted in a medical premiere in the U.S. — inarguably stands out through the emotional richness of its impact in the patient’s life.
“This first live birth to a uterus transplant recipient in the United States was a milestone in our work to solve absolute uterine factor infertility; but, more importantly, a beautiful moment of love and hope for a mother who had been told she would never be able to carry her own child.”
Scrubbing.in notes Baylor is among the first medical centers in the U.S. to explore uterus transplantation as an infertility treatment for women with AUI. Worldwide, this procedure was successfully performed for the first time in Sweden. The world’s first baby born via uterine transplant from a living donor was delivered at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, in 2014, followed by seven other births within the same uterus transplant trial.
Building on the impressive breakthrough in Sweden three years ago, the Baylor clinical trial considerably adds to advancing the field of uterine transplantation, says Dr. Liza Johannesson, ob-gyn and uterus transplant surgeon at Baylor.
Although she gives credit to the pioneering accomplishment done at Sahlgrenska, Dr. Johannesson believes the landmark birth in the Baylor program “is equally, if not even more, important.”
“We were very proud of the first birth in Sweden,” Dr. Johannesson says. “But this birth is what’s going to make the field grow because this is the first time this has been replicated anywhere else.”
The uterus transplant program undergone at Baylor is one of the few to take place in the U.S. in recent years and the first to harvest organs from both living and deceased donors. After the womb and cervix are removed and implanted into a recipient, the patient follows a course of immune-suppressing drugs to ensure the body doesn’t reject the donated organs. The embryo is fertilized in vitro prior to the uterus transplant and can be implanted as early as one year after the surgery, Baylor explains.
Uterine transplants are meant to be temporary and are typically left in place only until the patients are able to have one or two children. Afterwards, the transplanted uterus needs to be removed so the patient can forgo the immunosuppressants treatment.
Although the mother of the newborn delivered in Dallas wishes to remain anonymous in order to protect her family’s privacy, Time has publicized the name of the donor who made the transplant possible.
The woman who donated her uterus is 36-year-old Taylor Siler, a registered nurse in the Dallas area. Siler already has two boys of her own, a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, and had decided not to have any more children.
Siler confessed she entered the Baylor clinical trial as a donor after witnessing family members struggling to conceive.
“I just think that if we can give more people that option, that’s an awesome thing,” she remarked.