LIFE

Doctors Transplant Dead Donor’s Uterus Into Woman, Then 1 Year Later She Delivers Healthy Baby

by Caralynn Lippo

Science and medicine are becoming more advanced every day. A mere 50 years ago, we could hardly conceive of some of the cutting edge treatments and procedures we have access to today. Now, doctors in Brazil have revealed the latest accomplishment, and it’s being hailed as a medical miracle by many.

BBC News reports that a healthy baby was born using a womb transplanted from a deceased donor last year. The unnamed girl, born on December 15, 2017, was delivered via C-section by a mom who had been born without a uterus due to Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, a rare condition that causes the vagina and uterus to fail to form properly.

The 32-year-old woman received a transplanted uterus during a 10-hour operation that took place the year before, in September 2016. Womb transplants are still relatively rare — according to BBC News, there have been 39 transplants using a live donor (usually a relative or friend of the recipient), which have thus far resulted in 11 births. But this was the very first time in recorded medical history that a healthy child was born from a uterus that was transplanted from a dead donor.

Despite not having her own uterus, the anonymous mom had functional ovaries. Once she received the transplanted womb, doctors were able to harvest her eggs, fertilize them with the dad-to-be’s sperm, and freeze them. Seven months after the successful transplant operation, the frozen eggs were implanted in her uterus. Following a completely normal pregnancy, the 6 lb. baby girl was born. In the same procedure, doctors removed the transplanted uterus, so the recipient would no longer need to take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent her body from rejecting the organ.

Though the birth happened nearly a year ago, it is just now gaining attention because of a study published Tuesday in the medical journal Lancet — and it’s a major development for the medical community.

“There are still lots of things we don’t understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant,” said Dr. Cesar Diaz, co-author of accompanying commentary in Lancet, according to CBS News. “These transplants will help us understand implantation and every stage of pregnancy.”

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