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For the First Time Ever, a Woman With a Transplanted Uterus Gave Birth to a Baby

Two more women with transplanted uteruses are due to give birth in the next couple of weeks, too

(Photo: MELIE-BENOIST / BSIP/BSIP/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

For the first time ever, a woman who received a transplanted womb has given birth to a baby. The 36-year-old Swedish woman was born without a womb but last year became one of nine recipients of transplanted wombs, the Associated Press reports. Two other women who received transplanted wombs also quickly became pregnant and are due to give birth sometime within the next couple weeks. (Two others, however, rejected the transplanted organ.)

The new mom received her womb from a 61-year-old family friend and mother of two, the New Scientist reports. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg transplanted a fertilized egg into the woman's womb a year after the operation. The womb performed perfectly, with no hitches due to its age. As the researchers explained to the New Scientist: "The uterus is just like a house. You can live in an old house or you can live in a new mansion – they both keep the rain off. It's just an incubator basically." 

To ensure the mom's body didn't reject the new womb, however, she had to take immunosuppressant drugs for a year following the operation, the New Scientist continues. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg are hoping to get around this problem in the future by pioneering a new technique.

They are attempting to take wombs from deceased donors, strip those organs of their original DNA, and then replace the DNA with that of the recipient, the AP writes. The new method could be ready in as few as five years. "While that may sound like science fiction," the AP points out, "the techniques that led to the birth announced last week also sounded outlandish just years ago." 

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