• Professor Mats Brannstrom (C), head of a medical team which performed its first uterus transplant on a patient, attends a news conference

Professor Mats Brannstrom (C), head of a medical team which performed its first uterus transplant on a patient, attends a news conference (Photo : Reuters)

As part of a study at the Cleveland Clinic, ten women will soon be chosen to undergo uterus transplants. These will be the first uterus transplants ever to happen in the United States.

Doctors at Cleveland are hoping that the first uterus transplant will take place in the next few coming months, New York Times reported.

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However, it has been pointed out that the procedure is highly experimental, and that risks are still unclear. Here are the major things that are clear for now about the uterus transplants:

Have uterus transplants been done before?

The history of uterus transplants suggests that uterus transplants have been completed successfully before in Sweden. In fact, they were much successful that over the nine women who received transplants, five became pregnant, and four gave birth.

Sweden's case saw living relatives donate uteruses to patients. However, the Cleveland clinic intends to take a different path by using organs from deceased donors. This will avoid having the risk donors taking the risks of the uterine removal surgery.

Because the whole operation involves intricate work, the operation on a live donor can take approximately seven to 11 hours.

Researchers in the United Kingdom are also planning on to perform similar trials of uterus transplants using deceased donors like the Cleveland clinic next year.

Who needs a uterus transplant?

Studies that get planned in the future will involve women who have a uterine factor infertility condition. The term means that they cannot conceive pregnancy for uterus abnormities.

As reported, women of age 21-45 are eligible for the study, but those of 40 years or older are required to have undergone special treatments before the uterus transplants.

According to the NIH, about 1 in 4,500 women is born without a uterus in the United States.

What are the risks imposed by a uterus transplant?

Uterus transplants require the subjects to undergo a major surgery and because of this, there is a certain degree of risk imposed on the patient. According to ethics of doing surgery, some have said that performing this kind of operation is not ethical because it is not lifesaving. However, more people argue that the procedure is ethical because it improves a woman's quality of life.

Patients will have to take immunosuppressant drugs to avoid rejection of the organ by the body of the receiver. There is no study however that clearly shows how the body of the fetus will react with the drugs.

Another risk is that the study in the US will involve deceased donors which sparks a lot of questions about the risks involved.

How long will it take before the women get pregnant?

According to the technicalities of the procedure, women who receive a uterus must wait for a year before an embryo can get implanted. A year gives time for the uterus to heal.

What will happen after the woman gives birth?

After a woman has a successful birth, they will have an option of keeping the uterus and attempt to have another baby. However, after two babies get delivered, the woman will have to undergo a hysterectomy to remove the uterus so that the doctor can stop prescribing immunosuppressant drugs, which could have long-term risks to the subject.