The first birth as a result of a womb transplant in the United States has occurred in Texas, a milestone for the U.S. but one achieved several years ago in Sweden.
A woman, born without a uterus gave birth to the baby at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. In October 2016, the hospital said four women had received transplants but three of the wombs had to be removed because of poor blood flow.
There have been at least 16 uterus transplants worldwide.
Womb donors can be dead or alive, and the Baylor study aims to use some of both. The first four donors were unrelated and unknown to the recipients. The ones done in Sweden were from live donors, mostly from the recipients’ mother or a sister.
Doctors hope that womb transplants will enable as many as several thousand women born without a uterus to bear children. They will first have in vitro fertilization to retrieve and fertilize their eggs and produce embryos that will be frozen. After the uterus transplant, the embryos can be thawed and implanted, at least a year after the transplant. A baby resulting from a uterine transplant would be delivered by cesarean section.
The wombs are not intended to be permanent. The woman must take powerful drugs to prevent organ rejection, and the drugs pose long-term health risks, so the uterus would be removed after one or two successful pregnancies.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a statement on December 1, calling the Dallas birth “another important milestone in the history of reproductive medicine.” For women born without a functioning uterus, “transplantation represents the only way they can carry a pregnancy,” the statement said.
Photo credit: AP
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