For the first time in the United States and only the second time in the world, doctors have delivered a baby from a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor. Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic recently announced that they delivered a healthy baby girl by cesarean section on June 9.

Uterus transplantation from live donors has helped women all over the world overcome infertility and successfully bear children since a team of researchers first performed the procedure in 2014. Until now, uterus transplantation was available only to women who had family members willing to donate.

For many years, medical professionals doubted whether a live birth via deceased donor uterus was even possible.

Then, in December 2018, doctors in Brazil announced that they had delivered a baby from a woman who had received a uterus transplant from a deceased donor in 2016. The 32-year-old recipient had congenital uterine absence (Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser [MRKH] syndrome), a type of absolute uterine factor infertility.

The donor, who was 45 and had three previous vaginal deliveries, died of subarachnoid hemorrhage. This successful C-section live birth came after 10 previously known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors failed to produce a live birth. The doctors describe their breakthrough in The Lancet.

Second Woman Gives Birth After Receiving Uterus Transplant from a Deceased Donor

Doctors at Cleveland Clinic issued a press release announcing that a second woman has given birth after receiving uterus transplant from a deceased donor. Both the transplant and birth were part of Cleveland Clinic’s Uterine Transplantation for the Treatment of Uterine Factor Infertility clinical trial, which focuses on helping the 1 in 500 women of childbearing age who have the irreversible condition. The woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization as part of that trial in late 2018.

The aim of the Cleveland Clinic trial is to enroll ten women between the ages of 21 and 39 years old who have uterine factor infertility. Unlike other studies currently underway in the U.S., Cleveland Clinic’s protocol calls for the transplantation of uteruses from deceased donors in hopes of eliminating the risk to living donors.

The study involves seven stages: primary and secondary screening; medical evaluation; IVF; transplantation; embryo transfer; pregnancy/delivery; and follow-up. The researchers set the number of live births by C-section after uterus transplant and IVF as the primary outcome measure. The secondary outcome measures were the rate of complications within 9 months of successful implantation of embryo and the rate of neonatal complications birth by S-section to discharge from hospital.

There are currently 10 women enrolled in the trial. The Cleveland Clinic team has performed five uterus transplants since the trial began. Three of the five uterus transplants, including the one recently resulting in the live birth, were successful. Two women are awaiting embryo transfers, and several more are waiting for deceased donor transplants.

"It was amazing how perfectly normal this delivery was, considering how extraordinary the occasion," said Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeon Andreas Tzakis, MD, Ph.D.

"Through this research, we aim to make these extraordinary events, ordinary for the women who choose this option. 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."