First Uterus Transplant in the U.S. to Take Place in Ohio

This is the first time the procedure will be performed in the United States

Photo: Ben Jary/AP

The Cleveland Clinic is making strides in women’s health.

The academic medical center, based in Ohio, will be the first to introduce uterus transplants to women with uterine factor infertility (UFI) in the United States. The process of selecting women to participate in the study is now under way.

Women with UFI are unable to carry a pregnancy, either due to being born without a uterus or having a uterus that cannot function in those terms.

Previously, the procedure has been successfully performed in Sweden, which has resulted in five pregnancies and four live births – with the first child via a uterus transplant being born in 2014.

While the procedure has proven successful in Sweden, the Cleveland Clinic plans to take a different approach on the ten women who are up for the transplant – using organs from deceased women rather than live donors (which has been Sweden’s approach.)

Before women are able to undergo the procedure, they must first begin the in vitro fertilization process, which calls for having their eggs fertilized with sperm and then frozen in a laboratory.

There is also a year-long recovery period following the surgery. After this time, each frozen embryo is thawed and then implanted, until the woman becomes pregnant. These women must deliver via C-section.

While the implantation may result in pregnancy, it is not said to be a permanent fixture, with doctors recommending the uterus be removed after the patient has carried up to two children.

Like with any surgery, there are also risks with uterus transplants, as well as steps taken to ensure a successful procedure. The women selected to undergo the procedure would have to take anti-rejection drugs throughout their pregnancy in order to ensure a successful delivery – and it is possible they would have to have future surgeries.

“These women know exactly what this is about,” Dr. Andreas G. Tzakis, the study’s lead investigator at the Cleveland Clinic, told the New York Times. “They’re informed of the risks and benefits. They have a lot of time to think about it, and think about it again. Our job is to make it as safe and successful as possible.”

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