A 36-year-old Swedish woman has become the first in the world to give birth from a transplanted womb, delivering a healthy baby boy and giving hope to at least 500 Australian women who have already expressed interest in the groundbreaking procedure.
The woman, who has a genetic condition that means she was born without a womb, was one of nine Swedish women who received a uterus transplant from a live donor in 2013. In this case, the transplanted womb was donated by a 61-year-old family friend, who had gone through menopause seven years before the surgery.
The new mother, who had intact ovaries, was able to produce eggs that were fertilised using IVF before the transplant, and 11 embryos were frozen.
One year after the womb transplant, researchers led by Mats Brannstrom, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Gothenburg, transferred a single embryo to the new womb, which resulted in a positive pregnancy test three weeks later.
The mother, who has not been identified, was admitted to hospital at 31 weeks because she had pre-eclampsia and 16 hours later she had a caesarean, The Lancet medical journal reported.
A healthy boy was delivered with a normal birthweight (1775 grams) for his gestational age and with normal Apgar scores, which determine a newborn’s health.
The mother was discharged from hospital after three days, and the baby was discharged from the neonatal unit in good health 10 days after delivery, The Lancet said.
A member of Professor Brannstrom’s team, Queensland gynaecologist Ash Hanafy, told Fairfax Media earlier this year that he has a database with the names of about 500 Australian women who have expressed preliminary interest in the procedure.
Dr Hanafy said that if a healthy baby was born to one of the Swedish recipients, he hoped to begin the procedure in Australia in 2016.
The women seeking the procedure are of fertile age but have uterine-factor infertility. This can be due to the woman being born without a uterus (Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome), having undergone a life-saving hysterectomy because of cervical cancer or obstetric bleeding, or having a uterus that is not functional because of congenital malformation or intrauterine adhesions.
Professor Brannstrom said foetal growth and blood flows through the uterine arteries and umbilical cord were normal throughout the pregnancy.
“We found only one episode of mild rejection during the pregnancy that was successfully treated with corticosteroids, and the woman was working full time until the day before delivery,” he said.