Barcelona hospital delivers Spain's first baby born to woman with uterus transplant
Living organ donation from mother's sister in 2020 made historic birth possible at Hospital Clínic
Hospital Clínic has once again proved itself at the cutting edge, taking a giant leap forward on reproductive healthcare.
On March 10, the Barcelona hospital delivered baby Jesús, the son of the first woman in Catalonia and Spain to receive a womb transplant.
The baby, who left hospital on Monday after two and a half months in intensive care, was born prematurely after his mother, Tamara Franco, developed preeclampsia.
The transplant that made the historic birth possible took place in October 2020, when Tamara's sister donated her uterus in a complex 20-hour operation, the first live donor womb transplant in Catalonia and Spain.
Tamara was born without a uterus or fallopian tubes, a result of a congenital reproductive condition known as Rokitansky syndrome.
She became pregnant in September 2022 following three embryo transfers.
"Being a mother my dream"
Jesús is one of 50 boys and girls born around the world after a womb transplant, a very complex operation that is still in the experimental phase in Catalonia.
"Being a mother had always been my dream", explained Tamara, from Murcia in southeastern Spain. The process to reach her goal has been "very hard," she said, adding that she had no regrets and that "it was worth it."
Tamara's journey began in 2015, when she decided she wanted to get pregnant. After failing to get a solution to her problem through the public health services in Murcia and Valencia, her and her partner eventually ended up at Hospital Clínic in Barcelona.
Francesc Carmona, head of the Gynecology Service there, explained how in 2015 the hospital first presented the ethics committee with their proposal to carry out a womb transplant.
Finally, in October 2020, a 21-hour operation took place, with Tamara's sister as the living uterus donor.
Highly complex surgery
According to medical staff, the surgery was "very complex," with the removal of the donor's uterus taking eleven hours and its implantation into the patient's body taking five more.
Antonio Alcaraz, head of Urology at Hospital Clínic, compared the difficulty of the operation to a facial transplant, "with the difference here that it was all or nothing, because it either worked or it did not."
Two months after the operation, Tamara had her first period, "the first sign of the success of the operation," according to the doctors.
She underwent assisted reproductive treatment and got pregnant at the second attempt, but miscarried at eight weeks.
A third embryo transfer was effective and on March 10 of this year Tamara gave birth to Jesús.
The delivery was via a scheduled caesarean section at thirty weeks, after Tamara developed preeclampsia.
Jesús spent two and a half months in the neonatal intensive care unit, where, according to the medical team, he progressed and developed well.
Born weighing 1.1 kg, he now weighs 3.21 kg, considered an optimal weight for a newborn at 40 weeks, and this Monday was Tamara's original due date.
Having fulfilled her wish to become a mother, doctors removed her uterus.
50 babies from womb transplants
There are more than 50 children around the world born thanks to womb transplants, according to the doctors.
Some 107 women have asked Hospital Clínic about a uterus transplant in recent years, Carmona explained. Two, including Tamara, have had transplants, and two more are in the process of being considered. According to Carmona, the case of Tamara Franco demonstrates the feasibility of the technique and "opens the door to other women."
Carmona's colleague Alcaraz said that although transplants "always have a magical undertone" because it involves rebuilding something, in this case it goes further: "You have the feeling of creating the circumstances for life to appear again, and for us that is extremely important."
Catalonia's health minister, Manel Balcells, described the case as a "small miracle of science," and said that this was a day to feel proud of the public health system.
He praised the multidisciplinary nature of the team of over 20 professionals at Hospital Clínic that made this advance possible, saying the hospital was at the "cutting edge" of Catalan healthcare.