Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A woman with a transplanted uterus just give birth - a first for the U.S.

Washington Post (Dec. 3, 2017): A woman with a transplanted uterus just give birth - a first for the U.S., by Cleve R. Wootson:

Doctors at Baylor University have announced that for the first time in the United States, a woman has successfully given birth to a baby after a uterine transplant.  First successfully performed in Sweden, uterine transplants provide the opportunity for women with uterine factor infertility to become pregnant. 

Unlike other transplants, uterus transplants are not designed to be permanent.  The process requires three surgeries, the transplantation, a caesarian section to deliver the baby and a surgery to remove the uterus.  Removal of the uterus prevents women from having to take drugs long term that suppress the immune system in order to avoid rejection of the transplant.  The process also requires in vitro fertilization.

Baylor has been conducting a clinical trial designed for 10 women. Eight women, including the new mother, have received transplants.  Four transplants have failed, one other recipient is currently pregnant and two are trying to conceive.

Uterine transplants pose interesting ethical issues as women have other opportunities to have biologically related children such as use of a surrogate.  However, surrogacy poses its own ethical concerns.  For those who are not included in clinical trials, the cost of the procedure is likely to be expensive, which would limit those able to have the surgery to the wealthy. Prospective organ donors may also not feel comfortable with use of the use of their uterus to carry another woman's child.


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