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1st U.S. Uterus Transplant Fails Amid 'Sudden Complication'

A team of Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeons and gynecological surgeons perform the nation's first uterus transplant during a nine-hour surgery in Cleveland last month.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Cleveland Clinic says it has removed a transplanted uterus — the first-ever in the U.S. — after the patient suffered from a "sudden complication."

The clinic conducted the landmark operation in late February. As we reported, the procedure is intended to "open up another possible path to parenthood besides surrogacy or adoption for U.S. women who do not have a uterus, or who have a uterus that does not function."

The transplant was part of a study that the clinic says is meant to include 10 women with uterine factor infertility, meaning "they were born without a uterus, have lost their uterus, or have a uterus that no longer functions." The clinic says in a statement that the study will continue despite this setback.

It has provided no details about the reason for the transplant failure. "At this time, the circumstance of the complication is under review and more information will be shared as it becomes available," the statement reads. The patient, identified only by her first name Lindsey, is "doing well and recovering."

Before the complication, the 26-year-old transplant recipient gave a statement at a news conference, carried by Fox 8 Cleveland. She said she was told she could not have children when she was 16. "And from that moment on, I have prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to experience pregnancy. And here we are today at the beginning of that journey."

Lindsey thanked her doctors after the procedure failed, saying in the statement: "I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors. They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety."

A woman who had a successful uterus transplant in Sweden gave birth for the first time in 2014, as the Two-Way reported. Since then, at least four other babies have been born in Sweden after uterus transplants, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.