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Following Up: First U.S. Uterine Transplant

Last week we wrote about the United State’s first successful uterus transplant. Lindsey, the 26-year-old patient, was born without a uterus and hoped the transplant would allow her to conceive children. However, recently the unfortunate news broke that the transplant suddenly failed and the uterus was removed.

News of the failure came just one day after doctors held a new conference with Lindsey and her husband Blake to describe the transplant. Though no specifics are provided at the time, some doctors unrelated to the procedure have speculated that the failure could be the result of a rejection of the organ by the patient’s immune system, problems with the connecting veins and arteries, or the result of an infection.

Lindsey released a statement that read, “I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors. They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety. Unfortunately, I did lose the uterus to complications. However, I am doing O.K. and appreciate all of your prayers and good thoughts.”

Though the transplant was groundbreaking in the states, it has already been successful abroad. Since 2014, Sweden has seen 5 babies successfully born from uterine transplants. Swedish doctors have performed nine uterine transplants; seven were successful and two failed and were removed. The US doctors were in communication with the Swedish doctors, as well as a group of other international doctors working to perfect this procedure.

In the last twenty-five years, over 530,000 Americans have received organ transplants, most of which were kidneys or heart transplants. Currently, there are over 120,000 people on the kidney transplant list in the states. About 28,000 organ transplants were completed in 2014, about half of which were kidney transplants.

Organ transplants are high-risk surgeries that can have serious complications when something goes wrong. Complications include:

  • Rejection of the organ by the body
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Risk of contracting a disease from the transplanted organ like AIDS, Hepatitis B, cancer, or other viruses
  • Blood clots and blood loss
  • Other complications from the immunosuppression treatment used during organ transplant

Even when transplants are successful the organs may need to be replaced after several years. Transplanted organs function for five years or more in 57% of transplanted pancreas cases, 70% of liver transplant cases, 76% of heart transplant cases, and 52% in transplanted lung cases.

The US has been home to numerous other groundbreaking transplants in recent years. Last summer an 8-year-old boy received hand transplants after losing his to an infection, and a Mississippi firefighter received a facial transplant in numerous surgeries over the last ten years. The failed uterine transplant is not the end of uterine transplants in the United States. Doctors remain hopeful that they will find the reason of rejection and learn to perfect the procedure in the future.

About the Author

Briggs BedigianBriggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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