What You Need to Know About Uterus Transplants

A Cleveland hospital will be the first in the U.S. to try the procedure.

— -- Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic said this week they will attempt to give 10 women the chance to be pregnant by providing them with a uterine transplant.

Who Will Undergo Surgery?

Where Has This Been Done Before?

Uterine transplants have already occurred in other countries including Sweden and Turkey. A woman in Sweden conceived and give birth last year undergoing the womb transplant with a donation from a family friend, according to the BBC.

In total, five pregnancies and four births have occurred in Sweden after nine uterus transplants, according to a statement by the Cleveland Clinic.

The procedure could be especially important for infertile women who live in countries where surrogacy is illegal.

What Is the Process?

After undergoing an operation, the woman has to remain on immune system-suppressing drugs so that her body does not reject the organ. She’ll also have to under monthly biopsies.

“Unlike any other transplants, they are ‘ephemeral,’” said Cleveland Clinic lead investigator Dr. Andreas Tzakis said in a statement. “They are not intended to last for the duration of the recipient’s life, but will be maintained for only as long as is necessary to produce one or two children.”

Dr. James Goldfarb, division chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said a big difference between this study and the Swedish study is that the organs in the United States will transplanted from deceased donors. In the Swedish study, living donors underwent extensive surgeries to remove their uteruses intact.

He said people receiving a transplanted uterus will likely not have to undergo such an intense operation.

“It’s a very tricky surgery,” he said, “but I think it will be less traumatic.”