First Uterus Transplant in U.S.

Less than six months after a woman in Sweden gave birth to a healthy baby from a transplanted womb, doctors in Cleveland begin a clinical trial to test the procedure in 10 US women.

By | March 1, 2016

CLEVELAND CLINIC

Update (December 4): One of the women who received a uterus transplant as part of a trial at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas has given birth to a baby boy, the hospital announced last week. She is the first woman in the U.S. to have successfully carried and birthed a child with a transplanted uterus. “It was a very exciting birth,” Liza Johannesson, a uterus transplant surgeon at Baylor, tells The New York Times. “I’ve seen so many births and delivered so many babies, but this was a very special one.”   

After being halted temporarily last year, the program at the Cleveland Clinic has resumed, but no additional participants have yet received transplants. At Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, however, eight babies have been born to women with transplanted uteruses since fall 2014

Update (March 10, 2016): Because of “a sudden complication,” clinicians at the Cleveland Clinic have removed the transplanted uterus from the first patient to have received such an organ donation in the U.S., the institution announced yesterday (March 9). “There is a known risk in solid organ transplantation that the transplanted organ may have to be removed should a complication arise. The medical team took all necessary precautions and measures to ensure the safety of our patient,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement. The researchers plan to continue with the rest of the trial, which will involve transplanting wombs into nine additional women.

Last week (February 25), doctors at the Cleveland Clinic announced that they had successfully completed the nation’s first uterus transplant. After the nine-hour surgery, the 29-year-old patient was reported to be in stable condition. She is the first of 10 women who will undergo the procedure as part of a clinical trial.

Last October, a woman in Sweden gave birth to a healthy baby boy that developed inside her transplanted uterus. Four additional women with transplanted wombs have had successful pregnancies since, according to The Washington Post, and the Cleveland Clinic’s Andreas Tzakis, the surgeon leading the U.S. trial, traveled to Sweden to learn about the methods used there.

The 10 women taking part in the US trial were either born without a uterus or have had their wombs removed. The donated uteruses will all come from deceased patients (in contrast to Sweden’s trial, which took the organs from living donors). After the transplantation surgery, the transplanted uterus must heal for at least a year before the recipient is able to attempt a pregnancy.

“The exciting work from the investigators in Sweden demonstrated that uterine transplantation can result in the successful delivery of healthy infants,” Tzakis said in a press release. However, the Cleveland Clinic’s Tommaso Falcone added: “Although there appears to be potential, it is still considered highly experimental.”

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