The baby girl's mother was born without a uterus as a result of Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome a rare disorder that affects a woman's reproductive system. The donor was a 45-year-old woman who had three children and died of a stroke.
The healthy baby born last December in Brazil is one of 11 babies born using a transplanted womb, but the 1-year-old made history as the first baby ever to be born using the uterus of a deceased donor.
Five months after the transplant her body showed no signs of rejecting the uterus and her fertilised eggs were implanted two months later. The pregnancy went smoothly and a baby girl was delivered by caesarean section at just over 35 weeks.
The baby's birth suggests that more women who suffer from uterine infertility - including those who have undergone hysterectomies for reasons ranging from cancer to endometriosis - may be able to take advantage of the procedure moving forward, says paper co-author Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, who oversaw the case and is a medical faculty member in the division of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of São Paulo.
While a number of donated uteruses had been used in giving birth to children before, none had been done using the uterus from a dead donor. Ten deceased donor uterus transplants had been attempted and failed in the US, Czech Republic and Turkey.
Uterine transplants from living donors have occurred before.
A new technique might broaden the pool of available uterus donors and give more women the option to have a baby.
The whole field of uterus transplantation is in its early days. He added: "The numbers of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own deaths are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population".
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Part of the challenge in transplanting a uterus from a deceased donor is that the process - obtaining an organ, matching it to a recipient based on blood type and other qualities, and completing the operation - can take time.
"There are still lots of things we don't understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant, ' said Dr. Cesar Diaz, who co-authored an accompanying commentary in the journal".
"They should promote education and guidance so that the groups performing uterus transplantation for the first time can benefit from the experience of the pioneers".
Brazilian doctors are now planning more transplants following the procedure.
The Cleveland program is continuing to use deceased donors.
Moreover, the doctors said that while a transplanted kidney or liver stays for life, it is not the case with the uterus. "Infertility can have a devastating impact upon couples, particularly for women with absolute uterine factor infertility, for which there has been no effective treatment to date and - for some of these women, womb transplantation is the only way they can carry a pregnancy", stated Mr J Richard Smith, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Clinical Lead at Womb Transplant UK.
For some women receiving a uterus, transplant is the only way to get pregnant. Doctors then removed the uterus so the mother would not have to continue anti-rejection medications.
Some who were born without a uterus, other had unexplained malformations, of sustained damaged during childbirth or infection.