MAR 10, 2016 11:12 AM PST

First US Uterus Transplant Failed, Organ Removed

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The Cleveland Clinic reported that the first uterus transplant in the U.S. has sadly failed. The organ was removed on Tuesday March 8, 2015, just shy of the two-week mark since it was first transplanted. It is not yet known what led to the "sudden complications" that prompted the removal of the transplanted womb.
 
Lindsey, the 26-year-old recipient, is reportedly “doing well and recovering.” In a statement, she 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.”
 
Designed to give women who lack functioning uteri to have a chance at pregnancy, the procedure involves transplanting wombs from deceased donors into healthy female candidates. The donated organ then has to recover for 12 months before the woman attempt to conceive a baby via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
 
This lengthy process presents many possible avenues for complications, the biggest of which is organ rejection. Led by Dr. Andreas G. Tzakis, the team reported that Lindsey passed the first biopsy to check for rejection, indicating possibly other causes for the failure. These could include infections or issues with blood flow to the transplanted organ. The cause of the trouble won’t be confirmed until pathologists analyze the removed organ.
 
It is important to realize the transplant is still in its experimental phase, with trials far from perfect. Of nine uterus transplants that have taken place in Sweden, five have resulted in healthy babies. As risks and complications are inherent in any surgical procedure, it is worth noting that this unfortunate turn of events will be a valuable learning experience for everyone.  In addition to Cleveland Clinic, other U.S. medical centers are also planning uterus transplants trials. This includes Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
 
Lindsey was part of Cleveland Clinic’s trial that’s planned for 10 eligible women. Despite the setback, Cleveland Clinic stated the trial “is still ongoing with a commitment to the advancement of medical research to provide an additional option for women and their families.”
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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