Women who do not have a functioning uterus may one day be able to become pregnant thanks to groundbreaking transplant surgery. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic expect to become the first team in the United States to transplant a uterus from one woman to another in the near future.
The first clinical trial of this new type of transplant surgery was announced in November, with the first surgery at the Cleveland Clinic expected to take place in the next few months.
Ten women with uterine factor infertility are being selected to participate in the study. UFI is a condition that prevents pregnancy because the woman was born without a uterus, has lost her uterus, or has a uterus that does not function.
Until now, adoption or surrogacy were the only options available for women with UFI to become mothers.
To date, Sweden is the only country where a uterus transplant has been successfully completed. In that country, nine women have received uterus transplants. Four have given birth to healthy children, and a fifth baby is due to be born in January, 2016.
"The exciting work from the investigators in Sweden demonstrated that uterine transplantation can result in the successful delivery of healthy infants," Cleveland Clinic lead investigator Andreas Tzakis, MD, said in an article published in the November 12 issue of the Cleveland Clinic publication Health Essentials.
Like any transplant surgery, the recipient of a transplanted uterus must complete an extensive approval process. Considerations include physical and psychological screenings as well as finances.
Once a woman is approved, she must go through a multi-step process to prepare for the transplant and ensure that she has viable eggs ready once the transplant is accomplished.
This includes taking hormones to stimulate egg production so multiple eggs can be harvested. Ten eggs will be fertilized and the embryos frozen for later implantation.
Once the woman is ready for transplant surgery, the search will begin for a uterus with tissue and blood types that match that of the recipient.