A healthy baby has been born at a Dallas hospital to a mother who received a uterus transplant. It’s a medical first for the United States, and an important milestone in the battle against infertility.
Image: Baylor Scott & White
As Time magazine reports, the landmark birth happened at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. The sex, weight, and exact date of birth were not disclosed, and the new mum, along with her husband, have asked to remain anonymous. A 36-year-old registered nurse who has two children of her own donated the uterus, which was transplanted as part of a trial being conducted by the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute.
It’s the first time a baby has been born in the US after a uterus transplant, with several prior live births having successfully taken place at Sweden’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg. Transplant surgeon Liza Johannesson, who was part of the Baylor Scott & White team, was involved in the first womb transplants in Sweden.
Uterus transplants represent a new infertility treatment option for women with a condition known as “absolute uterine factor infertility”, where the uterus doesn’t function properly or is nonexistent. Baylor, which launched its womb transplant program last year, has completed eight out of 10 planned uterus transplants. Of these, three have failed.
The exceptionally intricate procedure takes about 10 hours – five hours to remove the healthy uterus from a donor, and another five to perform the transplant. Once a transplant is successful, in vitro fertilisation is required to kickstart the pregnancy, as the ovaries are not connected to the transplanted womb.
Prior to the transplant, the prospective mum is given fertility drugs to harvest her eggs, which are then fertilised and the resultant embryos frozen. The womb and cervix are then removed from the donor and transplanted into the recipient. After recovery (which takes about a full year), the embryos are transplanted, followed by pregnancy and birth.
The first successful birth following a uterus transplant happened in September 2014, when a 35-year-old woman received a uterus from a 61-year-old donor. Last year at the Cleveland Clinic, the United States’ first uterus transplant ended in failure after the patient developed a yeast infection.