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Biotechnology

The first baby has been born after a uterus transplant from a dead donor

December 5, 2018

A woman who received a uterus transplant from a deceased donor has given birth to a healthy baby girl, according to a paper in the Lancet.

The news: The 32-year-old mother suffers from Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome and was born without a uterus. But in September 2016, surgeons at the University of São Paulo in Brazil conducted a 10-hour transplant operation to provide her with one taken from a dead donor. Seven months later, the team transferred an IVF-created embryo into the womb. The baby was delivered by caesarean section in December 2017. The donor, who was 45 when she died of a brain hemorrhage, had delivered three children.

World first: Until this point, only uterus transplants from living donors had led to successful births. The 10 previous attempts to achieve pregnancies using uteruses from dead donors failed or led to miscarriages. Uterus transplantation, even from living donors, is still a very new procedure. The first successful birth from a living uterus donor was in Sweden in 2014, and there have only been 11 babies delivered that way since.

Why this matters: Expanding the pool of donors to include the dead as well as the living could help increase the number of available uteruses. Few people are willing to give up their wombs while they’re alive, but it might prove easier to convince people to bequeath them, especially those already signed up for organ donations.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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