For the first time in the United States, a woman born without a uterus gave birth to a healthy baby, according to a report released last Friday.
The woman, who remains anonymous, was part of a small trial studying uterine transplantation and pregnancy in women with Absolute Uterine Factor Infertility—meaning their uterus either does not function properly or is nonexistent—at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
A 36-year-old mother of two donated her uterus to the recipient, according to Time magazine. Doctors transplanted the donated uterus last year and then later implanted an embryo conceived using in vitro fertilization (IVF). (The women in the trial all have functioning ovaries that are not attached to the donated wombs, so IVF is necessary.) The recipient became pregnant and carried the baby to term. Last month, doctors successfully delivered the baby—reportedly healthy and screaming—by cesarean section.
The achievement is astounding both personally for this new family and professionally for the team of doctors who oversaw the transplant, pregnancy, and birth. An estimated 50,000 women in the United States could be candidates for a uterus transplant, according to The New York Times.
Yet despite its feel-good nature, this story raises serious ethical concerns.
The Baylor transplant is the first in the United States, but doctors in Sweden have led the way. In 2014, Sweden was home to the first baby in the world born from a transplanted womb. Seven more babies have since been born in further trials.
Following those births, medical ethicists started sounding alarm bells, asking to what lengths and at what costs medicine should go for women to experience pregnancy. They warned that amidst the excitement of a new fertility technology, the significant costs and ethical implications of uterine transplantation were being ignored.
Read more at World Mag.