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First baby born following womb transplant

13 October 2014
Appeared in BioNews 775

A boy has become the first baby to be born to a womb transplant recipient.

The mother, who is in her mid-thirties, is affected by MRKH syndrome and was born without a uterus. She is one of nine women who received wombs taken from live donors, in most cases the recipient's mother but also other relatives and friends, as a part of a medical research project conducted at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden (reported in BioNews 738). In this case, the uterus was donated by an unrelated family friend, a mother of two children, who had gone through the menopause.

The baby was delivered prematurely at 32 weeks by a Caesarean section after the mother developed pre-eclampsia, which posed a risk to both the parent and the unborn child. The newborn weighed just under 4lbs, which is within the norm for that stage of pregnancy. The mother and the baby were released from the hospital ten days after birth.

Professor Mats Brännström, who is leading the project, commented: 'The baby screamed right away and has not required any other care than normal clinical observation at the neonatal unit. The mother and child are both doing well and have returned home. The new parents are of course very happy and thankful.'

He explained the reason for the pre-eclampsia was unknown, suggesting that it could have been due to the immunosuppressive treatment and the fact the woman had only one kidney. Age could also be a factor, he said, adding that pre-eclampsia is also more common among women who have received IVF.

Womb transplantation offers an alternative to surrogacy or adoption for women who are either born without a womb or have theirs removed due to birth complications, cancer or other diseases. This success may bring hope to around sixty British couples who have been affected by this as yet untreatable form of female infertility. In the UK, the initiative is led by Dr Richard Smith head of the charity Womb Transplant UK. 'We have known for some time that it is possible to successfully transplant a womb. But the big unknown has been whether it is possible for that womb to safely carry a baby. Now we know it can,' he told the Daily Mail.

Dr Smith plans to use deceased donors, avoiding ethical questions around whether it is acceptable for living donors to be subjected to such an invasive procedure as uterus removal.

However, he is still awaiting ethical approval for implementing the project. One of the concerns is whether the blood supply to the transplanted womb would be sufficient to nourish the developing fetus (see BioNews 740).

Seven of the women in the Swedish study have received embryos created by IVF, with the other two needing to have their uteruses removed following complications. Two more women are expected to give birth towards the end of the year and the outcomes of those pregnancies will help to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the treatment.

All the women will be given the opportunity to transfer another one of their IVF embryos (reported in BioNews 745) to attempt a second pregnancy, six months after birth of their first baby. The transplanted uteri will subsequently be removed.

News of the birth was published in The Lancet.

First womb-transplant baby born
BBC News |  4 October 2014
Five British women to be given womb transplants: 'Miracle' UK babies could be born in just three years after breakthrough in Sweden
Daily Mail |  7 October 2014
Womb transplants: hope for tens of thousands of women in Britain
The Telegraph |  5 October 2014
World´s first child born after uterus transplantation
University of Gothenburg (press release) |  3 October 2014
4 November 2019 - by Dr Natasha Hammond-Browning 
Five years ago, on 3 October 2014, the world's first birth following a uterus transplant was announced. Born in Sweden, baby Vincent's arrival made global headlines, and was followed by further births from the Swedish trial...
15 May 2017 - by Georgia Everett 
A hospital in India is preparing this week to conduct the country’s first ever womb transplant...
10 October 2016 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Four women in the USA have become the first in the country to receive uteruses transplanted from living donors...
18 April 2016 - by Dr Natasha Hammond-Browning 
The first US uterus transplant was carried out in February, but before we continue down this route we need to ask whether the risks outweigh the benefits of these procedures...
16 November 2015 - by Dr Natasha Hammond-Browning 
The recent news that the Health Research Authority has given approval to a UK charity to conduct a clinical trial for womb transplants is seen as welcome news for women without wombs. But when compared to the extensive surgeries required for a womb transplant, is surrogacy not the safer option?...
10 March 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
Four women who had womb transplants have had embryos transferred in an attempt to become pregnant...
3 February 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
A womb transplant recipient is set to become pregnant after doctors successfully transferred an embryo into the transplanted uterus. If the embryo embeds and the pregnancy is successful, the baby will become the first child born following a womb transplant....
20 January 2014 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
Nine women have received transplants of uteruses donated by their mothers or other living relatives in an ongoing trial of an experimental procedure at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden...
20 June 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts 
A British woman has agreed to donate her womb to her daughter if selected for an experimental womb transplant surgery to be performed by doctors at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden....
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