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Health & Science

Cleveland Clinic Surgeons Describe the Nation's First Uterus Transplant

A photo of two surgeons
Cleveland Clinic

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic gathered Monday to answer questions about the first uterus transplant in the U.S.  They say while similar to other organ transplants, it’s a life-enhancing rather than life-saving procedure. 

The patient, a 26-year-old woman named Lindsey, has recovered enough since her Feb.26th surgery to give a brief statement.  She says at 16, she was told she would never carry a child, "and from that moment on, I have prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to experience pregnancy, and here we are today at  the beginning of that journey.”

Team member Tommaso Falcone says the surgery marks the beginning of a closely watched process.

“We will not transfer any embryos in for one year. During that time we have to monitor her very closely to make sure she’s not rejecting the transplant,” says Falcone.

Team member Ruth Farrell addressed the bioethics of the transplant.  She says, for Lindsey, not having a functioning uterus significantly affected her life.

“This is not a life-threatening condition, but it’s a life-altering condition,  and having children and families is one of the fundamental aspects that defines us as individuals, as families [and] as members of society,” says Farrell.

"I have prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to experience pregnancy."

Doctors are waiting one year for the organ to strengthen and heal until trying to implant embryos in the transplanted uterus.

The patient will need to remain on anti-rejection drugs even throughout the one or two hoped for pregnancies. Doctors say they will then remove the uterus to avoid prolonged use of the drugs.

The uterus from a deceased donor is attached to the blood vessels and vagina of the recipient.

In 2014, a woman in Sweden became the first uterine transplant recipient to successfully give birth.

This marks the first of 10 planned uterus transplants that are part of a long-term clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic.