First uterus transplant from deceased donor performed in Sweden
GOTHENBURG, Sweden: A research team from Sahlgrenska University Hospital at the University of Gothenburg has, for the first time, transplanted a uterus from a deceased donor. The operation proceeded without complications and the recipient is doing well. The researchers plan to carry out another five transplants of a deceased donor’s uterus in the course of 2020 and 2021.
The transplant was done in December 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Mats Brännström from the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the university. “It feels good to have started. Now we’ve also been able to tell the other study participants on the waiting list that the first transplant’s been done,” said Brännström.
Every previous uterine transplant in Sweden has involved a living donor—often the recipient’s mother, and in some cases a close friend. The purpose of trying out this new method is to expand the range of options ahead of the possible establishment of uterine transplantation as a treatment.
The number of potential donors would thus increase. Even a woman with no suitable living donor could be considered for transplantation. Moreover, there would be no need for a living donor to undergo anaesthesia and surgery.
The donor of the present case was a woman who had previously given birth and was of fertile age at the time of her sudden death. Her survivors were asked about her attitude toward organ donation. “They were also asked specifically about her uterus, since it’s a new organ in this context. Under the research ethics permit for the study, special mention of the uterus must be made,” explained Brännström.
After the transplant, the 30-year-old uterus recipient was allowed to leave the hospital after five days, and is now being monitored and receiving care in the same way as every other woman with a transplanted uterus in Sweden. In autumn, the team will try to induce a pregnancy through in vitro fertilisation.
Since the Swedish breakthrough in 2014, when the first birth worldwide from a transplanted uterus took place, another eight babies have been born. The latest birth took place in January 2020.
In 2019, a baby was born as part of the Robot Project. This study involved new technology, with a robot-assisted keyhole technique allowing less invasive surgery for the donor. The latest of the eight operations was performed in November 2019. So far, this has resulted in one pregnancy.
To date, three babies in the world have been born after transplantation of the uterus of a deceased donor: one in Brazil, followed by two in the US. The first such birth in Sweden may take place in 2021 at the earliest.