Pictured: first US baby ever born to a woman who received a womb transplant from a deceased donor in medical breakthrough
- Cleveland Clinic attempted the first womb transplant in the US in 2016 but it failed
- The donor had suffered from an undiagnosed bacterial infection that forced doctors to remove the womb before pregnancy was possible
- Since, more than a dozen women have given birth after womb transplants, mainly from living donors
- But now, Cleveland Clinic has successfully delivered a baby born to a woman who received a deceased donor's womb
- An estimated one in 500 women of child bearing age worldwide are affected by uterine factor infertility
Uterine transplants have enabled more than a dozen women to give birth - some in the US - usually with wombs donated from a living donor such as a friend or relative who no longer can or wants to have children.
But this little girl, born in June, is unique: her mother received a transplant from a deceased donor - a feat that could make this groundbreaking operation a possibility for far more women with uterine-factor infertility.
The mother, in her mid-30s, is part of a research trial at the Ohio hospital, involving 10 women in their 20s and 30s who were born without a uterus, rendering them infertile.
The little girl, born in June, is the first US baby who was carried to term in a womb from a deceased donor. She is the second in the world, after Brazil achieved the feat in December.
About one in 500 women of child-bearing age globally are infertile due to uterine complications.
The uterus was transplanted in late 2017. In late 2018, the mother became pregnant through in-vitro fertilization.
'We couldn't have asked for a better outcome. Everything went wonderfully with the delivery; the mother and baby girl are doing great,' said Uma Perni, M.D., Cleveland Clinic maternal fetal medicine specialist.
'It's important to remember this is still research. The field of uterus transplantation is rapidly evolving, and it's exciting to see what the options may be for women in the future.'
It comes three years after Cleveland Clinic attempted the first ever womb transplant in the US, giving a deceased donor's womb to patient Lindsey McFarland.
However, it transpired the donor had suffered from an undiagnosed bacterial infection called Candida albicans, which forced doctors to remove the transplant before McFarland and her husband could try to conceive.
For McFarland, that meant her hopes of carrying a child were over; she was no longer eligible for the trial, but her mother will be surrogate for their baby.
At Cleveland Clinic, they say they are learning from past mistakes.
The clinic has done five uterus transplants so far and three have been successful, with two women waiting to attempt pregnancy with new wombs.
These transplants were pioneered by a Swedish doctor who did the first successful one five years ago.
The concept of a uterus transplant was first mulled in the early 1900s, when German surgeons tried to perform the operation on a transgender patient, without success.
Almost 20 years ago, fresh attempts began in earnest, first unsuccessfully in Saudi Arabia in 2000, then again unsuccessfully in Turkey in 2011 (a successful transplant, but a failed pregnancy). Finally, in 2012, Swedish surgeons transplanted a mother's uterus into her daughter, who was born without one, and in 2014, the daughter gave birth.
After Cleveland Clinic's failed attempt, Baylor had success, delivering the first US baby after a womb transplant in 2017 in Texas.
In December last year, doctors in Brazil reported the world's first birth using a deceased donor's womb.
Now, Cleveland Clinic has joined the ranks.
'It was amazing how perfectly normal this delivery was, considering how extraordinary the occasion,' said Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeon Andreas Tzakis, MD, PhD.
'Through this research, we aim to make these extraordinary events, ordinary for the women who choose this option. We are grateful to the donor and her family, their generosity allowed our patient's dream to come true and a new baby to be born.'
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