Uterus Transplant Recipient: Operation ‘a Gift’
(Editor's note: The Cleveland Clinic said on March 9 that Lindsey "experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus." The clinical trial is ongoing.)
March 7, 2016 -- A 26-year-old woman who received a donor uterus in the first U.S. uterine transplant says she considers it “a gift I will never be able to repay.”
“The reason I chose to speak is, I wanted to be open and honest,” the woman, identified only as Lindsey, told reporters Monday in a press conference at the Cleveland Clinic, where the 9-hour operation was done on Feb. 24.
Lindsey was born without a uterus, a condition called uterine factor infertility (UFI). It results from a problem in the uterus, preventing a successful pregnancy. It affects 3% to 5% of reproductive-aged women worldwide, including an estimated 50,000 in the U.S. The women were born without a uterus, lost their organ because of a medical condition, or have a uterus that doesn’t work. Lindsey received the organ from a mother in her 30s who died suddenly.
“At 16 I was told I’d never have children,” said Lindsey, who has three adopted children with her husband, Blake. “At that moment I prayed to God to allow me to experience pregnancy. I am so thankful to these doctors and nurses who worked around the clock to ensure my safety.”
Lindsey has to wait a year to attempt to get pregnant to ensure the new organ is stable and there are no serious side effects from anti-rejection drugs, which suppress the immune system so it doesn’t attack the “foreign” organ.
She is among 10 women who are part of a clinical trial at Cleveland Clinic. They are between the ages of 21 and 39 and don’t have a uterus that can carry a pregnancy..
Each of the women donated eggs that were fertilized with their partner’s sperm for later implantation through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Lindsey will remain on anti-rejection drugs for up to two pregnancies. If she's able to get pregnant and have a child, she and her husband will have to wait a year and a half between IVF procedures if they choose to try for a second one.