Cleveland – For the first time in the United States, women with Uterine Factor Infertility (UFI) will receive uterine transplants in order to increase their chances of becoming mothers. As part of a first trial, doctors at Cleveland Clinic announced in a statement this week that they will use uterus from deceased donors as they do not want to put healthy women at risk.
Cleveland Clinic is considered one of the most innovative hospitals in the US in terms of reproductive surgery and transplant. If this trial happens to be successful, about 50.000 women in the US who are not capable of becoming pregnant could benefit from this procedure.
Among the women considered for such a revolutionary surgery are those who were born without a uterus, have uterine fibroids, had a hysterectomy or damage to the uterus. For some of them, the uterus is no longer functional due to other medical conditions.
“Women who are coping with UFI (uterine factor infertility) have few existing options,” affirmed in a statement Dr. Tommaso Falcone, an obstetrician-gynecologist and Women’s Health Institute chairman. “Although adoption and surrogacy provide opportunities for parenthood, both pose logistical challenges and may not be acceptable due to personal, cultural or legal reasons.”
The selection process started last September after the authorization was given by the Institutional Review Board. Experts from diverse fields have been extensively performing several medical and psychological assessments for healthy women with UFI between 21 and 39 years old.
As for the process of the surgery itself, doctors will first retrieve the eggs from each woman through in vitro fertilization. Those eggs will be frozen. Once the donor organ is acquired and the operation is done, the woman will have to take immune system-suppressing drugs. Otherwise, her body would reject the organ. Monthly biopsies will be required as well. After 12 months, she will have her thawed embryos implanted into her new uterus.
At most two infants are likely to be conceived and they will have to be delivered by Caesarian section, according to lead investigator Dr. Andreas Tzakis. He explained that the uterus will be removed after those two pregnancies so that the woman does not have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.
The first-ever uterine transplant was performed in Sweden and the baby was born in September 2014. Unlike the procedure that is soon to be carried out in the US, for this one, doctors performed the transplant with a donation from a living woman. After this successful attempt, five pregnancies and four births have occurred in Sweden.
Source: The New York Times