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Doctors Perform 4 Successful Uterus Transplants

In September, Texas doctors broke new ground in the fight against infertility. For the first time in the United States, a hospital in Texas has performed four uterus transplants using living donors. A earlier transplant took place in February 2016, but it was unsuccessful because of a common yeast infection.

Three of the uteruses have been removed due to insufficient blood flow, but the fourth transplant appears to be successful. A statement from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas says the surgical team was “cautiously optimistic” the fourth uterus would function normally.

Lead surgeon Giuliano Testa told Time:

This is the way we advance, from learning from our mistakes. I am not ashamed of being the one who will be remembered as the guy who did four [transplants] in the beginning and three failed. Even if through failure, I am going to make this work.

The four women who received the transplanted uteruses all suffered from Mayer-Rokitansky-K├╝ster-Hauser syndrome, as they were born without a uterus. When a woman is born without a uterus, or when she has a damaged uterus, a transplant would provide an opportunity to become pregnant and have a child.

Of course, the transplant procedure is still in the experimental stages, and the failure rate is high. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has also been approved to attempt the procedure.

Doctors in the United Kingdom plan to perform the procedure using uteruses from non-living donors. Prior to September, however, successful transplants had only been performed in Sweden, where nine procedures used living donors. Some of the women in Sweden have since given birth.

The Swedish surgical team worked alongside the Baylor physicians who performed the transplants in Dallas.

During the procedure, surgeons remove the uterus and part of the vagina from the living donor. Those are transplanted into the body of the recipient. Surgeons then connect the blood supply. There is no need to attach nerves.

If the woman who received the successful transplant continues to do well, she should be able to attempt pregnancy in six to 12 months. The uterus is not connected to her ovaries, so she will need to use in vitro fertilization. To avoid stress on the uterus, the baby will be delivered via C-section.

While this new procedure brings hope to many infertile women, it is still in the very early stages. It is also likely that, even when the procedure becomes clinically available, the financial cost will be prohibitive for many people.

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Category: Wellness

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