When 26-year-old mom Lindsey was only a teen, she was told she’d never bear her own children. But two weeks ago, she received the first uterus transplant in the U.S., and in a year, her dream may come true.
Lindsey spoke to reporters Monday about the surgery, which, if successful and helps her bear a healthy baby, could open the door for other women to get a uterus transplant, NBC News reported.
The procedure is controversial due to the risks of transplant and the fact that this particular surgery isn’t life-saving. Further, women who can’t get pregnant have other, less drastic options, like surrogacy or adoption.
Although Lindsey has adopted three “beautiful little boys” through foster care, she’s always wanted to carry and deliver her own child. Doctors went forward with the uterus transplant in recognition of this — that alternatives aren’t the best option for everyone.
“From that moment on I’ve prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to experience pregnancy and here we are today at the beginning of that journey… I am so thankful to this amazing team of doctors and all the nurses and staff who have worked around the clock to ensure my safety.”
Lindsey won’t know for a full year whether or not she’ll be able to get pregnant. Nine Swedish patients have delivered five healthy babies so far, so her chances seem good.
Her uterus transplant was part of a clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic, which will also be performed on nine other pre-screened patients. More than 250 women were screened for the trial, and only 10 were deemed eligible, CBS News added. They needed healthy ovaries for in vitro fertilization; before the uterus transplant, each woman produced six to 10 healthy embryos, which will be implanted if their surgeries are successful.
The hopeful mothers eligible for the uterus transplant were either born without one, had their uterus removed, or have an abnormality that prevents pregnancy.
After the uterus transplant, Lindsey will need to take anti-rejection medications, which are safe to take during pregnancy. Curiously, after she has given birth to one or two children, she’ll have to go back to the operating table to have the organ removed. That way, she can stop taking the anti-rejection drugs, which carry health risks long term.
Lindsey’s surgery took nine hours. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the uterus transplant is a difficult procedure: the uterus and blood supply is inserted in the patients’ pelvis, the blood vessels attached, and then the long road to recovery begins. Within a few months, the patient will start menstruating, and in a year, she can try to have a baby.
In Sweden, donors are often living and usually post-menopausal, but Lindsey’s donor was deceased.
Doctors have called this uterus transplant a “significant step forward” that gives hope for women who wish to experience pregnancy and children. But at the end of the day, it’s about bringing new life into the world.
“We must remember a uterine transplant is not just about a surgery and about moving a uterus from here to there. It’s about having a healthy baby,” said Cleveland Clinic surgeon Dr. Rebecca Flyckt.
Dr. Tomasso Falcone, the chair of the clinic’s Women’s Health Institute, was even more excited and described what it was like to perform the uterus transplant.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. The experience was euphoric for us.”
Of course, the success of a uterus transplant opens questions about who should benefit from the procedure. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the American Society of Transplantation, the American Organ Procurement Organization, and other groups are meeting to figure that out and draft guidelines for any medical centers planning to offer the transplants.
Any woman born without a functioning uterus or lost one to disease could benefit. But in a remarkable possibility, transgendered women may one day be able to undergo uterus transplant and carry their own babies as well.
[Image via Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock]