A baby boy carried in a uterus implanted into his mother by a robot was born in a world first.
The youngster, who has not been named, weighed six pounds and 13 ounces when he was born via planned C-section in Sweden last month. Both the child and his 35-year-old mother are doing well.
The pregnancy was made possible when a family member agreed to donate their uterus to the mother, who then had a fertilized egg implanted into it via IVF. The case marks the first time robots have been used for the procedure. It will give hope to the tens of thousands of American women who don’t have a uterus — which can be due to cancer or a medical condition — or have one unable to carry infants.
The case was revealed by surgeons at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, a leader in uterus transplants.
In the surgery, researchers began by removing the uterus in the donor by gradually cutting it away from blood vessels and pulling it out through the vagina.
Small incisions were made in the second patient’s side by the pelvis, and the uterus was implanted into them. It was connected to their blood vessels and vagina.
Surgeons inserted cameras and robotic arms with surgical instruments attached through the small entry holes in the lower belly to carry out the procedure — with the robotic arms being the first for this type of surgery.
The arms were steered via joysticks, with surgeons using consoles to see 3D images of the patient’s insides simultaneously.
This method is less invasive than the standard uterus transplant, which involves opening up larger openings in patients.
It is also thought to reduce the risk of infections, hemorrhages and allow patients to return to their daily lives faster.
The transplant occurred in October 2021 at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Ten months later, an embryo was created via IVF before being inserted in the transplanted uterus, and a few weeks later, pregnancy was verified.
The mother-to-be felt well throughout her pregnancy, which has thus now concluded with a planned C-section in the 38th week at the end of May 2023.
Pernilla Dahm-Kähler, adjunct professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, was the principal surgeon in the complex operation on the recipient.
She said: ‘With robot-assisted keyhole surgery, we can carry out ultra-fine precision surgery.
‘The technique gives very good access to operate deep down into the pelvis. This is the surgery of the future, and we’re proud and glad to have been able to develop uterine transplantations to this minimally invasive technical level.’
Dr Niclas Kvarnström, the transplant surgeon who performed the complicated blood-vessel suturing in the recipient, added: ‘With the robot-assisted technique, procedures can be done that were previously considered impossible to perform with standard keyhole surgery.
‘It is a privilege to be part of the evolution in this field with the overall goal to minimize the trauma to the patient caused by the surgery.’
The work is headed by Mats Brännström, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and gynecologist and senior consultant doctor at the University Hospital.