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Born out of a miracle

The world recently witnessed a medical feat when a woman from Brazil gave birth after a uterus transplant from a deceased donor

The first birth after a womb transplant from a living donor took place in Sweden in 2013. Since then, there have been 39 such procedures, resulting in 11 live births. But recently, another medical milestone was achieved when a woman from Brazil became the first in the world to have given birth to a child after a uterus transplant from a deceased donor.

The 32-year-old woman who was born without a uterus underwent an 11-hour long surgery for uterus implantation. After seven months, the woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilisation.

Earlier, 10 other uterus transplants from deceased donors were attempted, but this is the first one to have resulted in a live birth. In 2016, another such attempt was made by US-based Cleveland Clinic, but it failed after an infection developed.

This breakthrough will set aside several limitations that are involved in the case of a living donor. “Currently, uterus donation is only available for women with family members who are willing to donate. With live donors in short supply, the new technique might help to increase availability and give more women the option of pregnancy,” said British medical journal Lancet.

Experts say that the need for a live donor had been a major limitation to the procedure of womb transplant. “The donors are rare, typically being willing and eligible family members or close friends. The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own deaths are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population,” Lancet quoted researcher Dr Dani Ejzenberg.

Dr Ranjana Matthews, a Delhi-based gynaecologist, says, “The use of deceased donors will broaden the options for many who are affected by uterine anomalies. But I suppose the procedure is still in its early stages and many questions remain unresolved. Nonetheless, it is a positive development.”

Gynaecologist Dr Dipti Nabh says, “The knowledge gained from this will enable researchers to understand other questions related to pregnancy.”

Asked how far India is from such a significant medical accomplishment, she replies, “I feel India is not far behind – the first uterus transplant baby (living donor) in Asia was born in India last month.” The highlight was that the donor was the grandmother, which means that the baby girl was born from the same womb that carried her mother.