With deceased donor's uterus, woman gives birth to healthy baby

June birth 1st of its kind in US

Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.
Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.

For the first time in the United States, a baby was delivered from a uterus that was transplanted from a deceased donor.

In case you’re scratching your head, we’ll lay this out for you.

A uterus from a deceased woman was transplanted in 2017 to a woman in her mid-30s, according to the Cleveland Clinic, where the delivery took place in June.

In 2018, the woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

With the help of a research team — compromised of specialists in transplant surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, fertility, neonatology, bioethics, psychiatry, nursing, anesthesiology, infectious disease, interventional radiology, patient advocacy and social work —  the woman delivered her daughter via cesarean section.

Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.
Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.

“It was amazing how perfectly normal this delivery was, considering how extraordinary the occasion,” said Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeon Dr. Andreas Tzakis.

Clinic officials said it began the clinical trial — Uterine Transplantation for the Treatment of Uterine Factor Infertility — to offer hope to women worldwide who struggle with uterine factor infertility.

Since the trial began, the team has completed five uterus transplants — three of which were successful and two that resulted in hysterectomies.

“Through this research, we aim to make these extraordinary events, ordinary for the women who choose this option,” Tzakis said.

Two women are currently awaiting embryo transfers and several other candidates are listed for transplants. The clinic is looking to enroll 10 women between the ages of 21 and 39.

Cleveland Clinic’s protocol is different from similar efforts in the U.S. in that the transplanted uteruses come from a diseased donor so as to eliminate risk to a healthy, living donor.

Tsakis said the successful delivery in June was really pretty normal.

"We are grateful to the donor and her family, their generosity allowed our patient’s dream to come true and a new baby to be born.”

Click here to learn more about Cleveland Clinic’s uterine transplant program.

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