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First uterus transplants from living donors carried out in the US

10 October 2016
Appeared in BioNews 872

Four women in the USA have become the first in the country to receive uteruses transplanted from living donors.

While three of the women have since had their transplants removed due to a lack of blood flow, surgeons and researchers at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas are hopeful that the fourth woman might go on to have a successful pregnancy.

Dr Giuliano Testa, who is the lead surgeon and chief of abdominal transplantation at Baylor, acknowledged that although disappointing, the results so far show 'tremendous progress'.

He said: 'If you look at this from the science [perspective], it's something we've learned a lot from and we have a patient who is doing well. This is the beginning of hopefully a great history for medicine.'

All four of the women who received the transplants have a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome and were born without a uterus, or with an underdeveloped uterus. The living donors were all altruistic donors, meaning they did not know the recipients, nor did they receive payment in return for making the donation.

Dr Testa and his team estimate that it takes about three months to resume normal daily activity after a successful uterus transplant, and that IVF can be attempted six to twelve months post-operatively. Since transplanted uteruses are not connected to a woman's ovaries, IVF is required in order to become pregnant.

The first ever successful uterus transplants using living donors were completed in Sweden in 2014, with five out of nine women treated there going on to have healthy babies (see BioNews 775). Members of the Sahlgrenska University Hospital team in Gothenburg who carried out the successful Swedish transplants worked alongside the Baylor team as they performed the transplants in Texas.

'We have to collaborate with other teams around the world and share our knowledge,' Dr Liza Johannesson, one of the team from Sahlgrenska told Time magazine. 'If no one can repeat it, it's not worth anything. We owe it to the patients to be open,' she added.

In the UK, Dr Richard Smith and his team have been given ethics approval to perform uterus transplants from deceased donors (see BioNews 823), although no operations have been reported to date. 

11 June 2018 - by Sarah Pritchard 
The charity Womb Transplant UK has announced its intention to carry out the first womb transplant in the UK by the end of 2018, with living as well as deceased donors...
11 December 2017 - by Sam Sherratt 
A woman in Texas has become the first person in the USA to give birth after receiving a uterus transplant...
15 May 2017 - by Georgia Everett 
A hospital in India is preparing this week to conduct the country’s first ever womb transplant...
21 November 2016 - by Dr Natasha Hammond-Browning 
Sixteen uterus donations have occurred worldwide, and so far only a research team in Sweden has carried out transplants that successfully produced live births. The Swedish trial involved donations from living persons...
17 October 2016 - by Dr Nicola Williams 
This symposium was organised to facilitate in-depth discussion as well as international and interdisciplinary collaboration between academics and clinicians with an interest in uterus transplantation (UTx), which would allow women who lack a functioning uterus to become pregnant and give birth to their own babies...
27 June 2016 - by Amina Yonis 
A Swedish woman who gave birth in 2014 following a womb transplant is pregnant with a second child...
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...
12 October 2015 - by Nina Chohan 
Ethical approval has been given for clinical trials involving ten womb transplants in the UK to go ahead....
21 September 2015 - by Dr Nicola Williams 
There are currently good arguments for allowing living donors to be used in uterus transplants, but as research continues there may come a time when only deceased donors will be justifiable...
13 October 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
A boy has become the first baby to be born to a womb transplant recipient....
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