The first U.S. woman to get a uterus transplant said she "prayed to God" that she would someday be able to get pregnant.
Identified only by her first name, Lindsey, the patient told reporters today that she was told at 16 that she would not be able to bear children.
Lindsey, 26, made the statement today at a news conference at Cleveland Clinic less than two weeks after undergoing the first uterus transplant in the U.S. She said that she and her husband have adopted three children from the foster care system.
"I want to be open and honest about my story," Lindsey said from a wheelchair. "I was told I would never have children. I prayed that God would allow me to experience pregnancy."
Doctors at Cleveland Clinic gave more details on the first ever U.S. uterus transplant explaining that it will be at least a year until the patient can try to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization. The team screened 250 women and picked just 10 to be a part of this study on uterus transplants. To be considered for the uterus transplant, patients had to have at least six banked fertilized embryos before the transplant was attempted.
Patients can have up to two children before the uterus is then removed, which will allow the patient to stay off immunosuppressant medications. Dr. Tommaso Falcone, chairman of the Transplant Center, explained only two pregnancies would be allowed during this study to minimize risk to the patient.
"The concept is you don’t want to keep the patient on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life," Falcone explained. "You’re looking at five years on these drugs. We want to minimize long-term risk."
Falcone said the team was “euphoric” once the surgery had been completed.
Dr. Andreas Tzakis, a transplant surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, said that in some cases in Sweden when the body rejected the transplanted organ it did not need to be removed.
"It practically vanished, it disappeared," Tzakis said of some cases in which the body's immune system rejected the transplanted organ. "If that happens in these cases, maybe we allow that to happen."
He clarified it's still unknown how a transplant recipient will react in the long term to the transplanted organ.
He said in future studies, doctors and researchers may consider if patients should either stay on the drugs for a longer time or go off the medication but not have the uterus removed.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.