A 26-year-old woman who received the first transplanted uterus in the United States said on Monday she was looking forward to getting pregnant next year.
"I was told at 16 I would never have children. From that moment on I prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to experience pregnancy," said Lindsey, who did not give her last name to protect the privacy of her three adopted sons.
Lindsey, who was born without a uterus and received a womb from a deceased donor in her 30s, read a brief statement to reporters at a news conference. She was in a wheelchair and is still staying at the hospital for monitoring.
The transplant, done in a nine-hour surgery on Feb. 24, was the first of 10 uterine transplants planned as part of a clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic, which has screened 250 potential recipients.
The Cleveland team of surgeons who are conducting the trial said they worked closely with doctors in Sweden, where five babies have been born since 2014 to mothers with transplanted wombs.
Women who get a womb transplant in Cleveland will stay in the hospital one to two months following surgery, then return home and lead a fairly normal life on immunosuppression medications to keep their bodies from rejecting the transplanted organ, doctors said at the news conference.
Lindsey must wait a year to get pregnant, until she is on a lower dose of anti-rejection drugs, the doctors said. After one or two babies, the uterus will be removed so that she does not have to spend her whole life on anti-rejection drugs, the doctors said.
Embryos from her eggs and her husband's sperm will be implanted in her uterus. She cannot conceive through intercourse because the uterine transplant does not include the fallopian tubes.
The baby will be delivered by cesarean section as close as possible to its due date, the doctors said.
"Uterus transplant is not just about a surgery and moving a uterus from here to there. It's about having a healthy baby and that goal is still a couple of years away," said obstetrics and gynecology surgeon Rebecca Flyckt, referring to the year-long wait before trying to get pregnant, and the nine-month pregnancy.
The women who will participate in the trial include some born without a uterus - which happens to one in 5,000 women - and others who had a hysterectomy due to cancer or other problems.
(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Bernard Orr)