A Brazilian woman who received a womb transplanted from a deceased donor gave birth to a baby in her first successful case, the doctors said.
The case, published in the medical journal The Lancet, involved connecting the veins of the donor uterus to the recipient's veins as well as connecting arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.
It comes after ten previously known cases of uterine transplants from deceased donors – in the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey – have failed to produce live births.
The girl born in the Brazilian case was given a caesarean section of 35 weeks and three days and weighed 2550 grams (about 6 pounds).
Danny Eisenberg, a doctor at Brazilian University Hospital in Sao Paulo, who runs the study, said the transplant, carried out in September 2016 when the recipient was 32, showed that the technique was feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to more donors.
The current norm for getting a uterus is that the organ will come from a living member of the family who wants to donate it.
"The number of people willing and committed to donating organs to their own deaths is far greater than that of living donors, offering a much wider potential donor population," Eisenberg said in a statement of results.
She added, however, that the results and effects of uterine donation from living and deceased donors are still to be compared and said the technique can still be refined and optimized.
The first baby born after transplantation of a live donor uterus was in Sweden in 2013. Scientists have so far reported a total of 39 procedures of this type, resulting in 11 births.
Experts believe that infertility affects about 10-15% of reproductive age couples globally. Of this group, about one in 500 women have problems with the uterus.
Before uterine transplants become possible, the only options for a child are adoption or surrogacy.
In the Brazilian case, the recipient was born without a uterus because of a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. The donor is 45 years old and died of a stroke.
Five months after the transplant, Ejzenberg's team wrote, the uterus showed no signs of rejection, the ultrasound examination was normal, and the recipient had regular menstruation. Female fertilized and frozen eggs were implanted after seven months, and 10 days later she was confirmed pregnant.
At seven months and 20 days – when the study report was presented to The Lancet – the baby continued breastfeeding