The world's first baby has been born from a uterus transplanted into a woman from a dead donor.
A handful of uterus transplants have been performed and have resulted in successful childbirths since the first one in Sweden in 2013, but these have always been from living donors. There have been ten other attempts at transplanting a uterus from a deceased donor to achieve a childbirth, but none of these has been successful.
'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,' said Dr Dani Ejzenberg at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, who led the research.
He added: '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 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.
The baby was born in Hospital das Clínicas, University of São Paulo, Brazil to a woman who was born without a womb. The 32-year-old was transplanted with the uterus in September 2016 from a 45-year-old donor who had died of a type of stroke.
Four months prior to the surgery, the recipient had undergone one IVF cycle and had her fertilised eggs frozen. These blastocysts were implanted into her new uterus seven months after the transplantation. She had a healthy pregnancy and the baby was born through Caesarean section at 35 weeks. The transplanted uterus was also removed and showed 'no anomalies'.
Seven months after birth, both the baby and mother were healthy, according to the research published in The Lancet
Experts agreed the development offered benefits for uterine transplantation. 'This successful demonstration demonstrates a few advantages over live donation,' said Dr Srdjan Saso at Imperial College London. 'It enables use of a much wider potential donor population, applies lower costs and avoids live donors' surgical risks.'
'This opens the possibility of women donating their womb following death, as with many other organs,' said Professor Andrew Shennan at Kings College London. 'This allows a further option for women with uterine problems preventing them having a baby to carry their own child, rather than relying on live donors, a surrogate or adoption.'