Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Health

Uterus transplant recipient grateful for chance at pregnancy (w/video)

CLEVELAND — The recipient of the nation's first uterus transplant said Monday that she prayed for years to be able to bear a child, and is grateful to the deceased donor's family and surgeons who've given her that chance.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic said Monday that the 26-year-old woman is recovering well after receiving the uterus late last month. The experimental surgery is part of a new frontier in transplantation that, if it works, might be an alternative for some of the thousands of women unable to have children because they were born without a uterus or lost it to disease.

The woman, identified only as Lindsey, appeared briefly at a news conference with her husband. She said she already is a mother to three "beautiful little boys" adopted through foster care and that she was told when she was 16 that she wouldn't be able to bear children.

"From that moment on, I've prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to experience pregnancy," she said. "And here we are today, at the beginning of that journey."

The woman must wait at least a year to ensure the new uterus is healthy enough to try getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization, using embryos frozen ahead of the operation. To monitor the transplant, she will undergo monthly examinations.

VIDEO: Transplant recipient hoping for pregnancy

Other countries have tried womb transplants. Sweden reported the first successful birth in 2014, with a total of five healthy babies from nine transplants so far. The transplant team at the Cleveland Clinic, which has been exploring the possibility of performing uterus transplants for 10 years, trained with the Swedish surgeons.

The hospital has screened more than 250 women to identify 10 who qualify for the clinical trial, those lacking a functional uterus but with healthy ovaries that produce eggs. They must understand the risks — complications from abdominal surgery, plus the possibility that the transplant will fail — and that it's experimental.

"We must remember a uterine transplant is not just about a surgery and about moving a uterus from here to there. It's about having a healthy baby," said Cleveland Clinic surgeon Dr. Rebecca Flyckt.

One concern, both medically and ethically, is the effect that necessary anti-rejection drugs have on a developing fetus, the doctors said Monday. Dr. Andreas Tzakis, a transplant surgeon who is leading the study, said many women who've had kidney transplants have delivered healthy babies while taking anti-rejection drugs.

Births will be by cesarean section. The transplanted uterus will be removed after the woman has had one or two babies so that she won't need those drugs the rest of her life.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees U.S. transplants, said Baylor University in Dallas and Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital have also been approved for uterine transplants.

A uterus donation requires a separate consent from a deceased donor's family, like donations for other new procedures such as hand and face transplants, said UNOS chief medical officer Dr. David Klassen.

The donor for the Cleveland Clinic transplant was described as a healthy woman in her 30s who'd had children and had died suddenly. Sweden has used living donors for transplants there, but the Cleveland Clinic trial, to avoid any risk to a donor, decided to start with donors who have died.

The Cleveland Clinic patient, Lindsey, said she was grateful to that donor's family. "They have provided me with a gift that I will never be able to repay."

Dr. Mats Brannstrom of Sahlgrenska University Hospital at the University of Gothenburg said the Cleveland surgery marked the 13th transplant worldwide. According to Brannstrom, Saudi Arabia and Turkey previously reported attempts and China performed one in November, but Sweden so far has the only births.

Comments
Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

70 percent of cardiac arrests outside hospitals happen at home. American Heart Association 3 a.m. Jan. 4, 2016. Lisa Peters of St. Petersburg is awakened by her husband, Rick, making strange gasping sounds. She can’t wake him. He feels cold. Only 46...
Published: 02/16/18

Step by step, ramp up your daily activity

Jae Bermanhe Washington Post There are many reasons that people avoid exercise. Time is an obvious one. Our lives are already busy — who has time to work out? Money is another common excuse. Gym memberships and equipment can get pricey.People often w...
Published: 02/16/18
Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Nothing says indulgence like noshing on some seriously giant Alaskan king crab legs. They’re not just tasty, they’re a low-fat source of protein: One leg has about 25 grams of protein and a host of vitamins and minerals (including sodium, incidentall...
Published: 02/15/18
Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

You’ve likely seen persimmon in the grocery store and then shied away from it, not quite sure what to do with it. The most common variety in the United States is the fuyu persimmon, also called Japanese persimmon, and it looks similar to a slightly f...
Published: 02/15/18
News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

Emma Seppalahe Washington PostDan Harris is co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. His first book, 10% Happier, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. He later launched the 10% Happier podcast and an app called...
Published: 02/15/18

Mayo Clinic Q&A: exercise stress tests; breast self-awareness versus self-exams

DON’T SWEAT THE EXERCISE STRESS TESTI have a treadmill stress test scheduled to look for heart disease. I know this involves exercising, and I’m worried that I’m not physically up to it. Is there another way to gather this information?Yes. There’s an...
Published: 02/15/18
Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Three years ago, Dr. Philip J. Cheng, a urology resident at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nicked himself while preparing an HIV-positive patient for surgery.Following hospital protocol, he took a one-month course of Truvada, a cocktail of t...
Published: 02/15/18
Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

TAMPA — Nothing seemed wrong or out of place when it was time for Sam Cordero to make an appointment for a routine eye exam.The 57-year-old man from Tampa occasionally saw a few bright or foggy spots in his left eye, but thought it was just "floaters...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18
A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

LARGO — Keshava Persaud entered the room inside Largo Medical Center, his wife at his side. His eyes went right to the couple across the room. They looked so young, he thought. Tears welled as he handed the woman, April Scott, 49, potted white silk f...
Published: 02/14/18
Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health has hired a new executive position to oversee the six regional hospitals it operates along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Joseph Mullany has been appointed regional president and chief executive officer of Bayfront Health, and will overse...
Published: 02/13/18