Uterus Transplants Are Now a Real Thing
Greater perhaps than putting a man on the moon is science's ability to put a man (or a woman) in another's body.
Pregnancy, in my mind, is such a miracle, and it's amazing how far we have come with reproductive technology. We can do everything from literally creating life to watching it develop before our eyes, and now, for the first time, science is looking at performing the first-ever uterus transplant from a deceased donor.
The procedure, which is being planned by the Cleveland Clinic, would involve transplanting an entire uterus from a deceased donor into the recipient, which would be the first transplant of its kind. Last year, the world's first baby was born from a uterine transplant that was done in Sweden, but that transplant had been taken from a living donor. (Side note: how in the world did that donation come about? I can't imagine how difficult of a decision that would be!)
The transplant has a lot of implications for women who have been forced to have hysterectomies for medical reasons, such as cancer, for example, and some even hope that the surgery would open the doors for transgendered individuals hoping to start families by carrying a baby. Currently, however, to be a candidate for a transplant, a woman must have functional ovaries for hormonal reasons, even though the fallopian tubes will not be used in achieving pregnancy
According to The New York Times, eight women in the U.S. have put in to be considered for the uterine transplant, some traveling for hundreds of miles just hoping for the chance to be pregnant. The procedure could help women who are actually born without a uterus, a condition called Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser Syndrome. One source noted that around 50,000 women in the United States might be a candidate for a uterus transplant, a number I found surprisingly high.
Currently, the Cleveland Clinic plans to attempt the procedure ten times before deciding if they will continue to offer the transplant option to a wider range of women. And although the transplant sounds promising, it's still a long road for those who would choose it. There is major surgery involved (obviously), powerful medications to take so your body doesn't reject the new uterus, and then the physically and emotionally grueling process of doing egg stimulation, harvest, and in-vitro fertilization to actually place a baby in the new womb.
The entire process from start to finish would take years, as doctors have to wait at least a year before implanting embryos to ensure that the woman's body accepts the new uterus and that there no complications. After one or two babies are born from the uterus, it would be removed and all babies born would have to be birthed via a c-section.
Some doctors hope that uterine transplants will be an option deemed more acceptable than surrogacy, as they worry that surrogacy possibly exploits poor women or turns women, essentially, into rental bodies.
I definitely think that this option will be available to more women in the future, but that it will take some time before science really perfects the procedure.