Medical firsts
December 5, 2018

In a global first, a woman who received a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor welcomed a healthy baby girl last December, a team of Brazilian doctors revealed on Tuesday.

While 11 women with transplanted wombs from living donors have given birth, 10 earlier attempts using deceased donors all failed, The Associated Press reports. The mother, a 32-year-old psychologist, was born without a uterus. The donated womb came from a 45-year-old mother of three who died of a stroke. Seven months after the transplant, the psychologist went through in vitro fertilization and became pregnant. She gave birth via C-section, and doctors later removed the uterus so she could stop taking anti-rejection drugs.

Doctors from the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine said the mother and baby remain healthy. They published their report in the medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday, and they plan on doing two more transplants for the study. "There are still lots of things we don't understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant," study co-author Dr. Cesar Diaz told AP. "These transplants will help us understand implantation and every stage of pregnancy." Catherine Garcia

June 4, 2018

A woman with advanced stage breast cancer was given just three years to live before she was selected to try a new form of treatment. Now, her recovery is being hailed as the first case in which immunotherapy successfully eradicated cancer cells to reach a full cure.

Judy Perkins, a Florida engineer, had already tried several rounds of chemotherapy, and they had failed to keep her cancer from metastasizing throughout her body, reports The Guardian. She was given a chance to try immunotherapy, which used her own immune cells to fight against cancer cells.

Perkins has now been cancer-free for two years. Scientists told The Guardian that her response to the immunotherapy was "remarkable" and "unprecedented" given how advanced her breast cancer was when she began the treatment. Now that Perkins has made history as the first person to make such a recovery, doctors are excited to conduct full-scale trials in the hopes that more patients can benefit from the still-experimental therapy.

"We are now at the cusp of a major revolution in finally realizing the elusive goal of being able to target the plethora of mutations in cancer through immunotherapy," one cancer researcher said. Read more at The Guardian. Summer Meza

April 9, 2016

The first U.S. uterus transplant was removed March 8 due to a yeast infection, The New York Times reports the Cleveland Clinic said Friday.

The complication, which extended into an artery, was potentially life-threatening for Lindsey McFarland, who started bleeding heavily two weeks after undergoing the nine-hour procedure. Doctors hope to make uterus transplants available to women that don't have them and wish to experience childbirth. Julie Kliegman

October 24, 2014

The procedure is a medical breakthrough 20 years in the making — and it could save the lives of 30 percent more heart transplant patients.

Up till now, heart transplants could only be done with still-beating organs donated from brain-dead patients. But a team at St Vincent's hospital in Sydney, Australia, announced Friday that they had transplanted hearts that had stopped beating for 20 minutes into three patients. Two of the patients have recovered well. The third only recently underwent the procedure and is still in intensive care, The Guardian reports.

This "paradigm shift" was made possible by advancements in technology and the invention of a groundbreaking preservation solution. The hearts were submerged in the solution in portable "heart in a box" machines. Then the hearts were hooked up to a circuit where they were kept beating and warm for about four hours before transplantation.

"Based on the performance of the heart on the machine we can then tell quite reliably whether this heart will work if we then go and transplant it," the hospital's transplant unit director Peter MacDonald told The Guardian. Lauren Hansen

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