If you have failing kidneys or a heart that’s not working as it should, you get your name on a list and pray for a donor. Transplants of this sort have become rather commonplace, and though some signal the end of one life (a heart transplant, for example), they also pave the way for new life in the recipient.
Kidneys and other kinds of transplants or donations can be made by living donors, but are still a sacrifice of time, effort and (quite literally) self. As doctors and scientists understand the body more and more, amazing transplants have been taking place.
Now, that includes a uterus.
The woman who received the transplant was in Brazil and had been born without a uterus. At 32 years old, she became a mother and her baby was delivered through c-section.
This was an exciting case for many reasons. First of all, most uterus donors are living people, and there hadn’t been much success using a uterus from a deceased individual.
“The Brazilian group has proven that using deceased donors is a viable option,” said Dr. Tommaso Falcone at Cleveland Clinic, according to WCNC. “It may give us a bigger supply of organs than we thought were possible.”
The 45-year-old donor of the uterus had passed away from a stroke, but prior to that had carried and birthed three children.
Seven months after transplanting the uterus, doctors used IVF to implant the embryo. On Dec. 15, 2017, a healthy baby girl was born.
On Dec. 4, 2018, the article detailing the research and process was published in The Lancet, entitled “Livebirth after uterus transplantation from a deceased donor in a recipient with uterine infertility.”
Since then, this case has been gaining more notoriety and at almost a year old, the baby (and her momma) are doing well.
“There are still lots of things we don’t understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant,” said commentary co-author Dr. Cesar Diaz. “These transplants will help us understand implantation and every stage of pregnancy.”
“Uterus transplantation from live donors became a reality to treat infertility following a successful Swedish 2014 series, inspiring uterus transplantation centres and programmes worldwide,” the description of the article says.
“However, no case of livebirth via deceased donor uterus has, to our knowledge, been successfully achieved, raising doubts about its feasibility and viability, including whether the womb remains viable after prolonged ischemia.”
The ramifications of this study are heartening. “The results establish proof-of-concept for treating uterine infertility by transplantation from a deceased donor, opening a path to healthy pregnancy for all women with uterine factor infertility, without need of living donors or live donor surgery.”
Whether or not you would personally involve yourself in this sort of operation, it is amazing what the body can do when given the chance.
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