Many have heard of liver transplants, kidney transplants and heart transplants, but what about a uterus transplant? You probably have never heard of someone undergoing a uterus transplant, and that’s because it has never been done… well, that is until now.
The transplant recipient is only revealing her first name, Lindsey. According to the New York Times, Lindsey has uterine factor infertility, which means she was born without a uterus, but has healthy ovaries that produce eggs.
“Women who are coping with UFI [uterine factor infertility] have few existing options,” Dr. Tommaso Falcone, an obstetrician-gynecologist and Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Institute chairman, said in a 2015 statement to ABC News. “Although adoption and surrogacy provide opportunities for parenthood, both pose logistical challenges and may not be acceptable due to personal, cultural or legal reasons.”
The future is now.
A woman has received America’s first successful uterus transplant.https://t.co/oQQ7v2u5t9
— AJ+ (@ajplus) March 7, 2016
At the young age of 16, Lindsey was told she would never be able to have children. Because she couldn’t conceive a child on her own, Lindsey and her husband Blake decided to foster children, and eventually adopted three boys. Although she now has a family, Lindsey admits that she has always wanted to experience pregnancy, and hopes the uterus transplant will allow her that opportunity.
“I was 16 and was told I would never have children and from that moment on, I’ve prayed that God would allow me that opportunity to experience pregnancy. And here we are today at the beginning of that journey,” she told CNN.
Recipient of nation’s first uterus transplant “prayed to God” for chance to bear child https://t.co/csTP0PNJ0l pic.twitter.com/92NHqMNsto
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) March 7, 2016
Prior to the surgery, which took place at the Cleveland Clinic, Lindsey underwent in vitro fertilization so she could bank six to 10 embryos. On February 24, her hopes of one day being pregnant became a reality. In a nine hour surgery, doctors at the clinic successfully transplanted a uterus, which came from an unidentified donor, into Lindsey.
Dr. Andreas Tzakis, the director of the Cleveland Clinic transplant program and the lead investigator of the uterus transplant clinical trial said Lindsey will spend a month or two in the hospital, and then if everything heals correctly, she will be able to return to her home to live a normal life, which will include anti-rejection medications and monthly visits to the Cleveland Clinic.
Although Lindsey now has a uterus, she is still some time away from actually becoming pregnant. Her doctors want to wait at least a year before they implant any of her banked embryos; even then, they will only implant one at a time.
“Uterus transplant is not just about a surgery and for moving a uterus from here to there. It’s about having a healthy baby, and that goal is still a couple of years away,” Cleveland Clinic Ob-Gyn surgeon Dr. Rebecca Flyckt said.
— Women in the World (@WomenintheWorld) March 7, 2016
With the uterus transplant, doctors say a woman can have one to two healthy babies via c-section. After that, they will remove the transplanted uterus so the woman won’t have to continue taking anti-rejection medications. Additionally, doctors explained that a woman who undergoes a uterus transplant cannot get pregnant spontaneously.
“Unlike any other transplants, they are ‘ephemeral,'” Tzakis said. “They are not intended to last for the duration of the recipient’s life, but will be maintained for only as long as is necessary to produce one or two children.”
Although this is the first uterus transplant to take place in the United States, it is not the first to ever be completed. Sweden was the first country to report a successful birth in 2014 from a woman with a transplanted uterus. Since then, Sweden has had a total of five healthy babies from nine uterus transplants.
[Photo via Shutterstock]