In February, a 26-year-old woman named Lindsey became the first woman to receive a uterus transplant in the United States.
The nine-hour surgery to transplant the uterus — which came from a deceased donor — was a success. However, the hospital behind the transplant, The Cleveland Clinic, confirmed that it had to be removed this week.
“We are saddened to share that our patient, Lindsey, recently experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus,” the clinic said in a press release. “At this time, the circumstance of the complication is under review and more information will be shared as it becomes available.”
Though they took every precaution to ensure her safety, the hospital team added that it’s “a known risk in solid organ transplantation that the transplanted organ may have to be removed should a complication arise.”
Lindsey is the first participant of a planned 10-woman study to test if this type of transplant works on women who were born without a uterus or had to have it removed. The goal is to allow these women to conceive and give birth naturally, though they have to wait years to ensure that the body doesn’t reject it. Even then, the uterus is removed after two or three pregnancies because of the dangers involved.
The sad announcement comes just days after Lindsey and her doctors shared her story at a press conference. During the conference, she said she was told at 16 that she couldn’t have children naturally. Luckily, doctors confirmed that Lindsey is “doing well and recovering” after the removal.
“I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors,” she said in a statement. “They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety. Unfortunately I did lose the uterus to complications. However, I am doing OK and appreciate all of your prayers and good thoughts.”
This setback won’t change the future of the study, the doctors said, and they plan to continue working toward their goal of furthering “the advancement of medical research to provide an additional option for women and their families.”