Doctors Reveal Reason Why First US Uterus Transplant Failed

The transplant is part of ongoing study into the feasibility of transplants.

April 8, 2016, 2:48 PM

— -- The first uterus transplant in the U.S. failed due to an infection that "compromised" blood supply, according to doctors who performed the procedure at the Cleveland Clinic.

The transplanted uterus was removed from the recipient just weeks after surgery.

"Preliminary results suggest that the complication was due to an infection caused by an organism that is commonly found in a woman’s reproductive system," officials from the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement today. "The infection appears to have compromised the blood supply to the uterus, causing the need for its removal."

Since the operation was part of an ongoing study into the feasibility of uterus transplants, the medical staff announced they have modified protocols around the operation to diminish the chances this will happen in the next patient.

The transplant was performed on Feb. 24 and recipient identified as Lindsey spoke to reporters less than two weeks after that to talk about her hopes for future pregnancies.

News of the first U.S. uterus transplant was greeted with much fanfare, giving hope to many women who had previously believed it was impossible for them to bear children of their own. But the jubilation was soon followed by sobering news from the clinic.

"We are saddened to share that our patient, Lindsey, recently experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus," hospital officials said in a statement shortly after the uterus was removed.

She thanked her medical team in a statement after the transplant failed.

“I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors," she said. "They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety. Unfortunately, I did lose the uterus to complications. However, I am doing okay and appreciate all of your prayers and good thoughts.”

The operation was the first in a study that started last fall and is expected to include 10 women. The women who were considered for the procedure are unable to carry a pregnancy to term because of uterine factor infertility, which means the uterus had abnormalities that included fibroids, scarring, genetic malformations or that it never developed.

“Women who are coping with UFI [uterine factor infertility] have few existing options,” Dr. Tommaso Falcone, an obstetrician-gynecologist and chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Institute, said in a statement last year. “Although adoption and surrogacy provide opportunities for parenthood, both pose logistical challenges and may not be acceptable due to personal, cultural or legal reasons.”

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