In a medical first, a woman born without a womb was able to become a mother, thanks to an organ transplant from a deceased donor. While there have been 39 womb transplants using live donors—including mothers donating their wombs to their daughters, which have resulted in 11 babies—the success rate for wombs donated from deceased donors has been far less successful. Ten previous transplants from dead donors have either failed or resulted in miscarriage. This case, reported in The Lancet, is the first time a womb transplant via a deceased donor has led to the birth of a healthy baby.
The transplant, fertility treatments, and eventual birth all took place at the Hospital das Clinicas, University of São Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil. The donor was a 45-year-old woman who had three children before dying of a stroke. Her womb was transplanted into the soon-to-be mother who still had her ovaries and had undergone a round of IVF prior to the transplant. Six weeks later, she started having periods. After seven months, the fertilized eggs were implanted. She had a normal pregnancy and gave birth to a 6-pound baby girl delivered by cesarean section on December 15, 2017. (Medical miracles take a while to become public knowledge, apparently.) Scientific American reports that the baby girl, who is about to celebrate her first birthday, is healthy and developing normally.
“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,” Dani Ejzenberg, the transplant team’s lead doctor, said in a statement. “However, the need for a live donor is a major limitation, as donors are rare, typically being willing and eligible family members or close friends.”
The use of a womb from a deceased donor could radically expand the pool of women who could give birth this way. Have you signed up to be an organ donor?