LONDON – Brazilian doctors report that the world's first baby was born to a woman whose uterus was grafted from a deceased donor.
Eleven previous births used a grafted uterus but a living donor, usually a relative or friend.
Experts said that the use of uteri of deceased women could allow more transplants. Ten previous attempts using deceased donors in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the United States have failed.
The little girl was delivered last December by a woman born without a uterus because of a rare syndrome. The woman – a 32-year-old psychologist – feared early in the transplant, said Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, senior doctor of the transplant team at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo.
"It was the most important thing in his life," he said. "Now she comes to show us the baby and she is so happy"
The woman became pregnant by in vitro fertilization seven months after the transplant. The donor was a 45 year old woman who had three children and died of a stroke.
The recipient, unidentified, gave birth by caesarean section. Doctors have also removed the uterus, in part so that the woman is no longer forced to take anti-rejection drugs. Near a year later, the mother and the baby are in good health.
Two more transplants are planned as part of the Brazilian study. The details of the first case were published Tuesday in the Lancet medical journal.
Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom, a pioneer in uterine transplantation, delivered eight children to women who had uteruses from family members or friends. Two babies were born at Baylor University Medical Center in Texas and one in Serbia, also with live donor transplants.
In 2016, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic transplanted the uterus of a deceased donor, but this one failed after the development of an infection.
"The Brazilian group has proven that the use of deceased donors was a viable option," said Dr. Tommaso Falcone, of the clinic, involved in the Ohio case. "It can give us more organs than we thought."
The Cleveland program continues to use deceased donors. Falcone said that the fact that the transplant was successful after the uterus was preserved in the ice for nearly eight hours demonstrated the resistance of the uterus. Doctors try to keep the time needed for an organ without blood circulation to a minimum.
Other experts said the knowledge gained through such procedures could also solve some lingering mysteries about pregnancies.
"There are still many things we do not understand about pregnancies, such as the implantation of embryos," said Dr. Cesar Diaz, who co-wrote a comment in the journal. "These transplants will help us understand the implantation and each stage of pregnancy."
The Associated Press Science & Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, disseminated, rewritten or redistributed.