There have been several successful uteri transplants in Sweden since 2014, and at least 4 babies born via the transplanted organs from live donors, but this is the first time we’ve done it state side. USA! USA! USA!
Of course, medical miracles don’t amaze everyone. The Cleveland Clinic completed their 9 hour surgery on an unnamed 26-year-old on Wednesday, and are waiting to see how she recovers before attempting to implant embryos created via IVF. But people have already been criticizing the necessity of the procedure. NPR reminds us of an interview with Dr. Michael Green of Massachusetts General Hospital from 2012:
‘Nobody needs a uterus to live, OK?’ Green says. ‘Nobody needs a hand or a face to live, in fairness. It’s a quality-of-life issue. This is in that same category. So we’ve opened the door. We’ve stepped through it. And this is one of the next logical things that people might do.’
He wonders whether health care dollars should be spent on uterine transplants when a woman who lacks a uterus can turn to a surrogate mother to provide her with a child — if she can afford it, that is.
They also note how expensive surrogacy is, how it can embroil parents in unexpected legal battles, and that in some places it’s actually illegal. Of course, a uterus implant doesn’t sound like it comes cheap, but potentially insurance companies could be obligated to pay for it in future. According to The New York Times, The Cleveland Hospital’s ethics panel has given permission to attempt the procedure only 10 times, as an experiment. So, only 9 more to go to figure out the morality of the situation.
In order to use her new uterus, which came from a deceased donor, the 26-year-old will need to take anti-rejection medication throughout her pregnancy. The uterus itself is a temporary thing. You have a couple babies if you can, then the uterus is removed or allowed to disintegrate in order to limit potentially harmful exposure to the medication. It’s a difficult ordeal with no promise of reward, and obviously deeply important to women seeking the procedure.
Incredible image via Shutterstock.
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