In what could be a medical breakthrough, a woman in Brazil who received a womb transplant from a deceased donor has given birth to a baby. This breakthrough operation was first carried out in September 2016 when the recipient showed that the technique is feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to a larger pool of potential donors.
Before the success of this transplant, there were 10 previously known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors - in the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey but had failed to produce a live birth until a 32-year-old woman born without a womb had a successful 10-hour transplant operation in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
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This news came about when the woman's previously fertilised and frozen eggs were implanted after seven months and 10 days later, she was confirmed pregnant. The team conducting the study wrote that five months after the transplant, the uterus showed no signs of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the recipient was having regular menstruation.
The Brazil baby girl born was then delivered via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed 2.55 kg.
According to the study published by Lancet, there are thousands of women unable to produce children because of uterine problems. Until recently, the only option available was uterine infertility or the services of a surrogate mother.
There have been 39 womb transplants using a live donor, including mothers donating their womb to their daughter, resulting in 11 babies. There were also 10 previous transplants from a dead donor but they have either failed or resulted in a miscarriage.
Dr Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at Brazil's Sao Paulo University Hospital who led the research, said the 2016 transplant shows the technique is feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to a larger pool of potential donors.
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The doctor in a statement issued said, "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."
She, however, added that the outcomes and effects of womb donations from live and deceased donors are yet to be compared, and said the technique could still be refined and optimised.
The first baby born after a live donor womb transplant was in Sweden in 2013. Scientists have so far reported a total of 39 procedures of this kind, resulting in 11 live births.
(With inputs from sources)