The Cleveland Clinic made history on February 24, 2016 when a team of doctors performed the first uterus transplant ever completed in the United States. The surgery took gynecological and transplant surgeons nine hours to complete. A press release from the Cleveland Clinic reported that the patient was recovering in stable condition following the procedure.
A uterus transplant is a procedure during which a healthy uterus is harvested (in the case of the transplant performed by the Cleveland Clinic, the uterus came from a deceased organ donor) and transplanted into a female who has a diseased, absent, or infertile uterus. Although, last week saw the first procedure in the United States, this procedure has been performed elsewhere in the world for years.
The procedure is being hailed by many as a powerful potential treatment for women who struggle with infertility.In September 2014, a 36 year old Swedish woman gave birth following a uterus transplant. The patient was born with ovaries, but without a uterus. The transplant was performed using a harvested uterus from a friend who had undergone menopause. The patient underwent in vitro fertilization prior to the transplant, during which doctors were able to harvest 11 embryos. A year later, these embryos were implanted into the transplanted uterus, resulting in a successful pregnancy.
The Swedish surgeons who performed the procedure reported that it had taken ten years of research on animals in addition to surgical training in order to complete the surgery. The transplant performed by doctors at the Cleveland Clinic also had a rigorous preparation period. A research team, consisting of transplant specialists, obstetricians and gynecologists, bioethicists, psychiatrists, nurses and social workers screened potential candidates for a year prior to the surgery. The team continues to screen women who may be a potential fit for the surgery.
The Cleveland Clinic team is focusing on women with Uterine Factor Infertility (UFI), an irreversible condition affecting 3 percent to 5 percent of women worldwide. UFI is a broad umbrella for a host of conditions, including uterine fibroids, uterine scarring or adhesions, infection of the endometrium, scar tissue and other abnormalities. Some women develop UFI due to complications with earlier pregnancies, while others develop the condition due to other factors and are never able to conceive without intervention. A uterus transplant could be a powerful tool in giving couples who are affected by UFI the chance to conceive.
At this time, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are not releasing any additional comments about the transplant. A press conference is scheduled for later this week, during which more information about the procedure will be released to the public.
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