A healthy baby girl has been born using a transplanted womb taken from a deceased donor.
The 10-hour transplant operation took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2016, on a 32-year-old woman who had been born without a womb.
There had previously been 39 womb transplants using live donors, but all attempts at transplanting the organ from dead donors had either failed or resulted in miscarriage.
Although womb transplants using live donors has a much higher success rate, the need for a live donor has been extremely limiting due to the difficulties in finding women who are able and willing to donate.
In this first successful case, the donor of the womb was a mother of three in her mid-40s who’d died from bleeding on the brain.
The recipient of the womb had Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, a condition which affects approximately one in every 4,500 women and prevents the vagina and uterus from forming properly.
The recipient’s ovaries were fully functioning, meaning doctors were able to remove eggs, fertilise them with the father-to-be’s sperm and freeze them.
The woman was given specialist drugs to weaken her immune system and prevent her body attacking and rejecting the transplant.
Approximately six weeks after the transplant, she started having periods and after seven months, the fertilised eggs were implanted.
The pregnancy itself was deemed “normal” and a 6lb baby was delivered by Caesarean section on the 15th December 2017.
Dr Dani Ejzenberg, from Hospital das Clinicas in Sao Paulo, said: “The first uterus transplants from live donors were a medical milestone, creating the possibility of childbirth for many infertile women with access to suitable donors and the needed medical facilities.
“However, the need for a live donor is a major limitation as donors are rare, typically being willing and eligible family members or close friends.”