First baby born via dead donor uterus hailed a ‘medical milestone’

5 Dec 2018

Image: © Cari/

A team of doctors in Brazil has announced the birth of the first healthy baby via a donor uterus from a dead person.

Since a major breakthrough in 2014, 11 women have given birth to healthy children via a donated uterus from other healthy women. In another breakthrough, a team of doctors in Brazil has announced the first birth via a uterus donated from a dead woman.

According to AFP (via MedicalXpress), the researchers have published their findings on the birth of a healthy baby girl in December 2017 following an operation to insert the donor uterus in 2016. In doing so, the team said that thousands of women unable to give birth because of uterine problems may have new hope.

This would greatly expand upon existing options that are limited to either finding a woman willing to donate her uterus, or finding a surrogate mother. Of between 10pc and 15pc of couples that experience infertility, one in 500 women have problems with their uterus due to a number of conditions, including having a hysterectomy or a bad infection.

This latest breakthrough was made following 10 previous attempts in the US, Czech Republic and Turkey that didn’t work.

‘A much wider potential donor population’

Describing the procedure as a “medical milestone”, Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at the teaching hospital of the University of São Paulo, said: “Our results provide a proof of concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility.

“The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own death are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population.”

The donor who received the uterus was 32 years old and was born with a rare condition where she did not have a uterus. Four months prior to the transplant, the patient had IVF, producing eight fertilised eggs that were later frozen.

The donor was a 45-year-old woman who had died from a stroke, and her uterus was removed during a 10-hour procedure. Once removed, the surgical team had to connect up the donor uterus with the recipient. Following the successful transplant and five months of anti-rejection medication, the team confirmed that the woman was menstruating regularly.

Once the woman had given birth, the uterus was removed so that she didn’t need to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of her life.

Reaction internationally has been generally congratulatory and optimistic; however, Richard Kennedy of the International Federation of Fertility Societies did err on the side of caution by saying it “should be regarded as experimental”.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic