The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio claims to have delivered the first baby born in North America through a uterine transplant from a dead donor.
The process was pioneered by a Swedish doctor who conducted the first successful uterine transplant from a living donor five years ago. The first transplant from a dead donor was carried out in December, 2018 at a hospital in Brazil.
The new mother, who is in her mid-30s, is part of a research trial involving 10 women who have uterine factor infertility. Women with this condition don’t have a uterus or have had their uterus removed.
How does the transplant work?
At the beginning of the procedure, in-vitro fertilisation is carried out using male sperm and eggs of the woman. Then the chosen womb is removed from the donor and transplanted into the recipient, much as transplants would work for other organs such as the heart or kidney.
If the recipient’s body accepts the new uterus and manages to attain normal womb and ovarian function, an embryo is implanted into it. This usually happens a year after the transplant and is followed by pregnancy and delivery.
Following the delivery of the child, the uterus is once again removed from the recipient.
Still at elementary levels of surgical advancement, the procedures for womb transplants, however, remain extremely invasive, even for the donor. Furthermore, other major complications for the recipient have included urinary tract complications, thrombosis, infection and haematoma according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK.