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Daring First U.S. Uterine Transplant Fails

The Cleveland Clinic recently performed the first uterus transplant into a woman with uterine factor infertility. That transplant has had to be removed, but the transplant team expects to continue future attempts.

Marie Thibault

March 9, 2016

3 Min Read
Daring First U.S. Uterine Transplant Fails

Marie Thibault

The transplant team at the Cleveland Clinic performed the first uterus transplant in the United States.

The first transplanted uterus in the United States has had to be removed, the Cleveland Clinic said today. The transplant patient is recovering well, the hospital noted in a statement.

"We are saddened to share that our patient, Lindsey, recently experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus . . . While this has been difficult for both the patient and the medical team, Lindsey is doing well and recovering," the hospital said.

The uterus transplant, which took place on February 24th and lasted nine hours, was part of a 10-patient clinical study for women who have uterine factor infertility. The uterus came from a deceased donor of reproductive age. In a video clip released by the Cleveland Clinic before news of the transplant removal, Andreas Tzakis, MD, transplant surgeon and the principal investigator for the study, said that while a uterus transplant uses "well-established" surgical techniques from other solid organ transplants, this surgery is "a little bit more complex for this particular transplant because the uterus lies deep inside the pelvis and is difficult to access, and the vessels are all deep inside the pelvis as well. So it's a little bit more difficult that way." 

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Despite the required uterus removal, the 10-woman clinical study is expected to continue "with a commitment to the advancement of medical research to provide an additional option for women and their families," the Cleveland Clinic said in its statement.

The objective of the study is to eventually allow a woman with a transplanted uterus to become pregnant and deliver a baby. In a video clip from the Cleveland Clinic, Tzakis said, "Our main objective of this is to make our patient fertile, keep her healthy, and have a healthy baby, and then learn from this procedure so we can perfect it and do it most efficiently and as safely as possible." He estimated that about 50,000 women in the United States cannot conceive because they do not have a uterus or their uterus is non-functioning. 

Tommaso Falcone, MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology at Cleveland Clinic and a member of the transplant team, said in a video clip, "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." In another video clip, he added, "The uterus is very resilient and will do what it is biologically destined to do."

In a statement released today, patient Lindsey said, "I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors. They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety. Unfortunately I did lose the uterus to complications. However, I am doing okay and appreciate all of your prayers and good thoughts."

While this transplant procedure was a first in the United States, a team at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden successfully performed a uterine transplant in 2012, which later resulted in a pregnancy and the delivery of a baby boy in 2014

Marie Thibault is the associate editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @medtechmarie

[Image courtesy of THE CLEVELAND CLINIC ]  


About the Author(s)

Marie Thibault

Marie Thibault is the managing editor for Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry and Qmed. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @MedTechMarie.

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