History was made last month in a Swedish delivery room, when a 36-year-old woman with a transplanted womb gave birth to a baby boy. (Yep, you read that right.) The miracle infant was delivered about nine weeks early via C-section but is now healthy and at home with his parents, reports People.com. (The family is keeping its identity private for now.)
The moment the infant entered the world was "fantastic happiness," Professor Mats Brannstrom of the University of Gothenburg, who led the transplant team, told the BBC.
While womb transplants are uncommon, transferring embryos into a donated uterus is relatively unchartered territory. The new mom, who was born without a womb but has healthy ovaries, received a uterus from a 61-year-old family friend. Before trying to get pregnant, she had to wait a year to make sure the donated womb was working well.
Once doctors gave the woman got the green light, they combined her eggs with her husband's sperm to create an embryo in a lab dish, then transferred it into her uterus. The procedure took and the baby gestated for 31 weeks. (He was taken early because his heart rate was abnormal and his mom developed preeclampsia.) At the time of delivery, he was 3.9 pounds -- normal for that stage of pregnancy -- and spent 10 days in the neonatal unit before going home.
Despite the unusual conditions surrounding his conception, the baby sounds like he's adjusting well to life outside the womb. His father told People that "he's no different from any other child, but he will have a good story to tell. One day he can look at the newspaper articles about how he was born and know that he was the first in the world."
The success story out of Sweden may offer some glimmer of hope for women who were born without a uterus or lost theirs to cancer. Still, doctors warn that womb transplants are more of the exception than the norm. "This would not be done unless there were no other options," says Dr. Glenn Schattman, past president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies and a Cornell University fertility specialist. "It requires a very long surgery and not without risk and complications."
Stock image of doctors courtesy of Shutterstock