Surgeons in Cleveland say they have performed the nation’s first uterus transplant, a new frontier that aims to give women who lack wombs a chance at pregnancy.
In a statement on Thursday, February 25,2016 , the Cleveland Clinic said the nine-hour surgery was performed a day earlier on a 26-year-old woman, using a uterus from a deceased donor.
The hospital had long been planning for such a surgery, announcing last autumn a clinical trial that would attempt 10 transplants.
The hospital said it wouldn’t release any more details until a press conference next week, except to say the woman’s condition was stable.
Other countries have tried womb transplants – Sweden reported the first successful birth in 2014, with a total of five healthy babies so far.
Doctors there say the still-experimental treatment might be an alternative for some of the thousands of women unable to have children because they were born without a uterus or lost it to disease.
Others have questioned whether such an extreme step would be a realistic option for many women.
It’s fraught with medical risk, including rejection of the transplant and having to take potent immune-suppressing drugs for a transplant that, unlike patients who receive a donated kidney or heart, isn’t life-saving.
The Cleveland Clinic’s Dr Andreas Tzakis said the risks aren’t greater than those for other transplants but is considered life-enhancing, like transplants of the face or hand.
One important difference: “Unlike any other transplants, they are ‘ephemeral’,” Tzakis said last year in a statement announcing the study.
“They are not intended to last for the duration of the recipient’s life, but will be maintained for only as long as is necessary to produce one or two children.”