The first uterus transplants from living donors have been attempted in the US, Time reports. Of the four transplant surgeries performed last month at Baylor University Medical Center, only one looks to be successful. But once doctors figure out a way around the complications, these surgeries could one day become a way for women without uteruses to carry a pregnancy to term.
The four women who received the uterus transplants last month had been been born without their own, due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome. Their donors weren’t relatives — in fact, they didn’t even know the transplant recipients.
"We had our chance to become mothers"
"They told us, ‘We had our chance to become mothers, and now we have this uterus and it’s not doing anything for us,’" Giuliano Testa, the surgeon who led the transplantation team at Baylor University Medical Center, told Time.
Three of the transplants had to be removed following the surgeries when the doctors determined they weren’t receiving enough blood. But one of the transplants appears healthy. If it continues to be, the recipient might be able to start trying to conceive by next March at the earliest — but possibly as much as a year from when the transplants were performed.
She’ll have to use in vitro fertilization, though, because her own ovaries aren’t actually hooked up to the uterus. And once she has two children, the uterus will be removed so she doesn’t have to keep taking the drugs that keep her from rejecting the organ.
Earlier this year, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic transplanted a uterus from a deceased donor. But two weeks after the surgery, the doctors had to remove it when a yeast infection began restricting blood flow to the new organ.
The doctors on the medical team included two doctors from Sweden, where the very first uterus transplants in the world were performed. Of the nine patients who received the uterus transplants from living donors in Sweden, five have resulted in healthy babies and a sixth is on the way. Here in the US, Baylor is planning six more transplants before the year is out.