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Birth after transplantation of a dead donor's uterus
About a year ago, a baby was born in Brazil that had developed in a uterus that had previously been transplanted from a dead 45-year-old woman. Usually, uterine transplants are received from living donors, which severely limits the availability of the organs. The possibility that the uterus can be successfully preserved and transplanted by the deceased could change this in the future. Will this medical breakthrough even allow pregnancy for men treated with hormones in the future?
The scientists at the University of São Paulo managed to perform a uterine transplant from a dead donor, which ultimately led to a successful pregnancy for the recipient of the organ. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet".
Uterine transplants with dead organs?
So-called uterine transplants have been successfully carried out since 2014. These organs came from living donors, so availability is severely limited. If organs from dead donors can now be successfully preserved and transplanted, this leads to a loosening of the care passport for women who are otherwise unable to get pregnant due to uterine problems. Before the fall in 2016, it was still unclear whether a uterus could give birth to a baby if the organ was removed after the donor's death. The baby weighed 2.5 kg at birth on December 15, 2017, and the mother and child remained healthy after birth. The transplanted uterus was removed during childbirth. This gives hope to women who would need a child transplant due to injury, illness, surgery (hysterectomy), or congenital conditions.
There have been discussions about assisted reproductive technologies for years
Of course, there is much debate about whether such a uterus transplant from a dead woman is really meaningful and morally justifiable. Since the early discussions about assisted reproductive technologies (such as IVF) in the 1920s, opinions about the effects on gender roles, and especially the decisions of women, have been divided. At that time there was the idea of carrying out pregnancy in an artificial womb. This was seen by some experts as an emancipatory technology that frees women from the duties of childbirth and the associated restrictions. At the time, some doctors explained that women could only hope for social equality if they were released from responsibility for childbirth. However, there were also researchers who believed that an artificial womb would break the mother-child bond and rob women of their role.
Births for all genders?
Due to the potential availability of pregnancies for so-called trans women and even for cis men (cis genders) with hormone treatments, uterine transplants can question social norms and prejudices by creating new family structures, the scientists say. Few topics are more emotional than conception and child-rearing, which is why the possibilities and effects of uterine transplantation should be discussed particularly openly, patiently and carefully. (as)