First Uterine Transplant in U.S. May Help More Get Pregnant

This is major news: The first uterine transplant in the U.S. has been performed by surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic. What does this mean for the future of pregnancy?

First Uterine Transplant in U.S. May Help More Get Pregnant Micolas/Shutterstock

Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic have performed the first uterine transplant in the U.S., according to New York Times. The clinic announced the completion of the nine-hour surgery on Thursday.

The operation was performed on a 26-year-old using a uterus from a deceased individual. According to the clinic, the woman who received the transplant—whose identity is being protected—is in stable condition. The operation was led by Andrew G. Tzakis, M.D.

The procedure could open the door for others like it and may be game-changing for its potential ability to give women who don't have functioning uteruses a chance at carrying out pregnancies. This represents a fertility option for women who suffer from all forms of uterine factor infertility, a term that describes women who were born without uteruses, those who have had hysterectomies, often due to issues like uterine cancer, fibroids or endometriosis, or those with nonfunctioning uteruses, according to CNN.

Once they receive this transplant, these women will need to wait a full year before they can try to conceive—they'll spend this year recovering and under medical care to reduce chances of organ rejection.

Once this period is over, the women who receive transplants will need to undergo IVF. The patients will have their eggs removed surgically before the transplant. They will be fertilized with a partner's sperm and frozen, then transferred to the woman's uteruses after the transplant.

There's a catch, though: The transplant won't be permanent. The uteruses will be removed after the recipient has one or two children, at which point she'll stop taking anti-rejection drugs.

The future of this treatment is still up in the air. The hospital's ethics panel has given this procedure the green light to go ahead with 10 experimental tries, after which the officials will decide whether or not to continue with the procedure and offer it to the public.