The first baby to be born after their mother received a uterus transplant involving surgeon-operated robots has been delivered in Sweden.
The uterus transplant was carried out at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in October 2017. Ten months after the procedure, the woman became pregnant via IVF. The pregnancy was free of complications, and a baby boy was delivered by caesarean section on 8 April.
'This is an extremely important step towards developing the surgery involved in uterine transplantation, and its safety,' said Professor Mats Brännström, who leads the research team at Sahlgrenska Academy. 'For the first time, we're showing that the less invasive robot-assisted surgical technique is practicable.'
The robot-assisted procedure involved making a one-centimetre incision in the donor's abdomen – who in this case was the recipient's mother. Two robot arms performed the procedure, each controlled by a human surgeon. The uterus was removed through the incision, and then directly transferred to the recipient via conventional open surgery carried out by humans.
The robotic procedure allows a much higher degree of precision, with surgeons working from a magnified three-dimensional image of the patient's lower abdomen.
Niclas Kvarnström, one of the transplant surgeons, said: 'In the future, we're also going to be able to transplant the uterus in the recipient using [the] robot-assisted keyhole technique.'
A total of 15 babies have been born worldwide following a uterus transplant. The Sahlgrenska baby is the first to be born as part of what the researchers involve have dubbed 'the robot project'. Further pregnancies and deliveries are expected as part of the project, including the first robot-operated transplant of a uterus from a deceased donor.
'It's a fantastic feeling to deliver such a special, longed-for child,' said Dr Pernilla Dahm-Kähler, a leading robot-assisted surgeon in the team. 'To have been part of the whole process, from the first meeting with the couple to the uterus transplant, and now to see everyone’s joy when what we’ve hoped for becomes reality. It's simply wonderful.'