One hospital in the U.S. is set to perform uterus transplants to 10 women in the upcoming months. 10 women in the U.K. may also undergo the surgery, as part of a study set to begin next year.
The Cleveland Clinic will be the first ever medical institution in the U.S. to offer uterus transplants to infertile women to begin in the next few months, according to the New York Times. The clinical trial is open to women ages 21 to 45 who are unable to conceive “because they were born without a uterus, have lost their uterus, or have a uterus that no longer functions,” said a hospital statement.
The study in the U.K. was approved by the by the Health Research Authority, part of the U.K.'s Department of Health. In charge of the study is the charity organization Womb Transplant U.K. Also eligible for the U.K. operation are women born without a uterus or have had their uterus removed as treatment for an illness like cervical cancer. The organization is currently raising enough funds for their trials set to begin next year.
About 1 in 4,500 women in the U.S. is born without a uterus - a condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, according to the NIH.
Uterus transplants, a major surgical operation, have proven successful in Sweden helping previously infertile women carry and give birth to children. To this day, nine women in Sweden have undergone the operation, resulting to five pregnancies and four live births.
Early attempts at the transplant in Saudi Arabia and Turkey were unsuccessful.
The women to undergo the operation will get pregnant through in vitro fertilization where their eggs will be taken from their ovaries, fertilized in a lab and implanted in their transplanted uterus. They will not be able to conceive through intercourse as the transplanted uteruses will not be connected to their fallopian tubes where the eggs are normally fertilized. The women will give birth via cesarean section.
The Swedish transplants previously used uterus from live donors. The U.S. and U.K. clinical trials are, however, planning on using uteruses donated by diseases individuals, a change that experts are saying may compromise the organs because of the decline in the donor’s health after death.
The women will be able to undergo in vitro fertilization after a year of the transplant to give time for the uterus to heal. They will give birth via cesarean section and will have a choice of having one to two babies before the uterus is removed.
Sources: Nov. 13, 2015. "Hospital Begins Offering Uterus Transplants to Treat Infertility". yahoo.com Nov. 12, 2015. "Uterus Transplants May Soon Help Some Infertile Women in the U.S. Become Pregnant". nytimes.com Nov. 13, 2015. "US Uterus Transplants: 6 Things to Know". livescience.com Oct. 1, 2015. "UK Womb Transplants: 5 Ethical Issues". livescience.com