For the first time in North America and the second time worldwide, Cleveland Clinic delivered a baby from a uterus that was transplanted from a deceased donor.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. Everything went wonderfully with the delivery; the mother and baby girl are doing great,” said Uma Perni, M.D., Cleveland Clinic maternal fetal medicine specialist. “It’s important to remember this is still research. The field of uterus transplantation is rapidly evolving, and it’s exciting to see what the options may be for women in the future.”
The transplant and birth are part of an on-going clinical trial – Uterine Transplantation for the Treatment of Uterine Factor Infertility – at Cleveland Clinic, offering hope to women worldwide who are unable to have a baby due to uterine factor infertility. An estimated 1 in 500 women of child bearing age worldwide are affected by the irreversible condition.
In June, the research team – comprised of specialists in transplant surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, fertility, neonatology, bioethics, psychiatry, nursing, anesthesiology, infectious disease, interventional radiology, patient advocacy and social work – welcomed a baby girl via cesarean section. The uterus, from a deceased donor, was transplanted in late 2017. In late 2018, the mother, who is in her mid-30s, became pregnant through in vitro fertilization.
“It was amazing how perfectly normal this delivery was, considering how extraordinary the occasion,” said Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeon Andreas Tzakis, M.D., Ph. D. “Through this research, we aim to make these extraordinary events, ordinary for the women who choose this option. We are grateful to the donor and her family, their generosity allowed our patient’s dream to come true and a new baby to be born.”
“Medicine is constantly evolving,” said Tommaso Falcone, M.D., Cleveland Clinic professor of obstetrics & gynecology and former institute chair. “I am honored to be part of a team that is dedicated to outstanding patient care and moving medicine forward. This clinical trial reflects the Cleveland Clinic tradition of innovation in clinical medicine. The teamwork it took to make this happen for our patient was remarkable, I am so proud.”
Since Cleveland Clinic began the clinical trial, the team has completed five uterus transplants; three transplants were successful and two resulted in hysterectomies. Currently, two women are awaiting embryo transfers, while several more candidates are listed for transplant.
The aim is to enroll ten women between the ages of 21 and 39 years old. Unlike similar research efforts in the U.S., Cleveland Clinic’s protocol calls for the transplanted uterus to come from a deceased donor in order to eliminate risk to a healthy, living donor.