September 2014 in Sweden, a baby boy was born, everyday occurrence I know, but not so with this birth. Vincent was born to a mother who was unable to carry a child because of uterine infertility. Uterine infertility describes when a woman is born without a uterus or had her uterus removed. In the past women who experienced this were told there was no way they could carry and give birth to their own child. That is no longer true. Vincent’s mother was the recipient of a womb transplant and is thrilled with her miracle baby and the fact she was able to experience being pregnant with her own child. There have been 2 babies born since Vincent that were the result of the same procedure.
The surgeon and pioneer of womb transplants is Dr. Mats Brannstrom in Sweden. Dr. Brannstrom says that there are other womb transplant patients pregnant now and they expect the birth of more babies in the upcoming months. Brannstrom was inspired back in 1998 in Australia after removing the uterus of a young woman with cancer. He remembers having to tell her that while she would be cancer free, she would not be able to carry a pregnancy. The woman asked about the possibility of transplanting her mother’s uterus into herself.
The idea set Brannstrom off to begin a research project in Sweden. After successful transplants and subsequent pregnancies in animals, Brannstrom felt the chance for success in humans was good. In 2012 the first 2 transplants were performed on two women, one born without a uterus and the other who had to have her uterus removed due to cervical cancer. In these first 2 transplants the uterus was donated by the patient’s mother. Following the transplant women must wait a period of at least 12 months before in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be performed.
The mother of the first baby born after a uterus transplant did so with a 61-year-old womb donated by a family friend. The 36-year-old was one of 9 women who underwent the transplant led by Dr. Brannstrom. The family friend is the mother to 2 children. 12 months after surgery, the patient underwent IVF using her egg and her partners sperm, 9 months later a healthy baby boy named Vincent (below) was born.
One may question how a 61-year-old uterus could support a healthy pregnancy, but as an obstetrician on the uterus transplant team explained, there is evidence that a 70-year-old uterus will function like a 20-year-old uterus. It’s not the age of the uterus but the eggs that matter.
Vincent’s mother, who does not wish to be identified, was admitted to the hospital for preeclampsia at 31 weeks. Vincent was delivered by C-section less than 24 hours later. Even though he was early, he was healthy and is doing well. The parents understand that Vincent’s birth has been an inspiration to many other women who have uterine infertility.
So what do you think?