Doctors have made history by delivering the world’s first baby born to a woman whose uterus had been transplanted from a deceased donor.
11 other births have been recorded by using a transplanted womb, but those transplants all came from a living donor — most often a relative or a friend. But the woman who recently welcomed a baby girl, a 32-year-old psychologist, suffered from a rare syndrome that left her without a uterus.
At first, she was apprehensive about the uterine transplant from a deceased source. Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, the lead doctor of the transplant team at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, elaborated upon this point to NBC News.
“This was the most important thing in her life. Now she comes in to show us the baby and she is so happy,” Ejzenberg said.
The uterine donor was a 45-year-old woman — and mother of three children — who tragically passed away after suffering a stroke. Once her uterus was transplanted into the 32-year-old patient, she remained in the hospital for eight days recovering from the extensive medical procedure, reported the Lancet.
The patient then underwent seven months of in vitro fertilization, until she finally became pregnant.
Considering the success of this medical miracle, two more similar transplants are being planned. Uterine transplantation was pioneered by Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom, who has delivered eight children from women who received donations from living family members or friends.
In 2016, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic successfully transplanted a uterus into a 26-year-old named Lindsey which was sourced from a deceased donor, but it ended up failing after an infection developed, NBC News reported. Lindsey and her husband Blake adopted three children, but wanted to try the transplant to see if it would work for them.
Patients only keep the donated uterus long enough to have a child or two, and then the organ is removed — because of the risks of rejection.
The news of a successful birth following the transplant of a uterus from a deceased donor is huge for women around the world who desperately want their own baby, but are prevented from doing so due to their personal circumstances. Dr. Tommaso Falcone with the Cleveland Clinic said it opens up a whole new opportunity for medical professionals, too.
“It may give us a bigger supply of organs than we thought were possible,” Falcone said.
The news provides some degree of hope to many women world-wide who face issues related to infertility.