The first uterus transplant made in the United States failed due to a yeast infection, a fungus called Candida albicans, which affected the blood supply of the patient. The procedure took place at the Cleveland, on February 24, 2016. The surgery lasted nine hours.

The patient, Lindsey Macfarland, a 26-year-old woman from Lubbock, Texas, seemed to be doing well, days after the transplant, according to a statement she made, saying that she was very grateful she had the procedure made.

The Cleveland Clinic confirmed that the rejection of the uterus transplant was due to a common yeast infection that compromised the blood supply to the uterus. Credit: NY Post

A few days after the surgery, on March 8, 2016, she suffered a complication, resulted in heavy bleeding, and the uterus had to be removed.

On April 8, 2016, the Cleveland Clinic confirmed that the rejection of the organ by Macfarland was due to a common infection that compromised the blood supply to the uterus. The infection was hard to control because doctors applied drugs to prevent rejection of the organ, which also stopped the immune system from fighting the infection. A week after the uterus was removed, Lindsey had to go in for surgery again, because of more bleeding. Lindsey Macfarlan spent around five weeks in the hospital, being treated with antifungal medicines.

The fungus Candida albicans is normally found on the skin and mucous membranes without causing any issues. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 75 percent of American women get a yeast infection at least once in their lives. But the overgrowth of the fungus, due to sickness or medication, can interrupt the balance of the body and it can generate an infection. Since the yeast can be found in the genital tract, the problem could have been because the donor or the recipient had the fungus.

“Preliminary results suggest that the complication was because of an infection caused by an organism that is commonly found in a woman’s reproductive system. The infection appears to have compromised the blood supply to the uterus, causing the need for its removal,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a written statement.

Lindsey is currently a mother. The problem she went through did not stop her from having kids because she adopted. When she was 16 years old she found that she was infertile, which is why she decided to have the uterus transplant. After she suffered from the infection and the organ was taken out, she decided to adopt, and now she is the mother of three boys.

How does a uterus transplant work?

First of all, doctors need to remove some of the donor’s eggs so they can fertilize them to create embryos, freezing them until needed. After that, the entire womb, including two major arteries and four veins, has to be removed from the donor in a three-hour operation. Then, the uterus has to be implanted into the patient, taking around six hours.

A year later, after doctors know for sure that the transplant was a success, one of the embryos is thawed and implanted into the donated uterus. If the patient results to get pregnant, the doctors will have to deliver the baby via C-section. After the woman has had one or two babied, the transplanted organ has to be removed.

The only successful uterus transplant happened in Sweden, being the pioneer of womb transplant, at the University of Gothenburg, with nine transplants that have resulted in five successful births so far.

Source: The New York Times