Yesterday the Cleveland Clinic, a multi-speciality academic hospital in the US, conducted the world’s tenth uterus transplant. The recipient was a 26-year-old American woman who was born without a uterus. This was the first successful uterus transplant in the US but in Sweden 9 transplants have already been undertaken successfully. According to the New York Times, the lead surgeon in the American team, Dr. Andreas G. Tzakis travelled to Sweden to learn more about the procedure. In Sweden, 4 of the 9 recipients have since given birth to healthy babies since.
Uterus transplants are possible options for women born without uteruses or with uterine damage and who would like to experience childbirth. It could potentially be an option for transwomen. In fact, one of the world’s first attempts at uterus transplants happened in 1931 with a Danish transwoman, Lili Elbe. That particular surgery ended tragically when Elbe died of organ rejection. Organ rejection remains a major danger even today which leads to a rather mind-boggling aspect of the current technology. These current transplants are meant to be temporary. Again according to the New York Times, “any children will be born by cesarean section and the mother will have the transplanted uterus removed after having one or two babies.”
Other medical factoids which might interest you. One, the age of the donor doesn’t matter. Two, in the recent Swedish transplants the uteruses came from live donors (usually relatives) through a surgery that takes as many as 11 hours. Three, pregnancy will take place through IVF in advance of the transplant.