Uterus transplants may sound like weird science of the future, but they’re really not. We previously reported that Sweden has successfully been performing these transplants since 2014, with at least four babies being born through these transplanted uteri. But now, the U.S. has finally joined the team.
The Cleveland Clinic completed the monumental nine-hour surgery on an unnamed 26-year-old this past Wednesday. As of now, the team is waiting for her to recover before they can attempt to implant embryos via IVF. In order to use her new uterus, which came from a deceased donor, the 26-year-old will need to take anti-rejection medication throughout her pregnancy. The uterus itself is temporary, as a way to limit harmful exposure to medication.
While you may be simply amazed at the wonders of modern medicine, there are some criticizers–as NPR pointed out in an interview with Dr. Michael Green of Massachusetts General Hospital from 2012:
“Nobody needs a uterus to live, OK? Nobody needs a hand or a face to live, in fairness. It’s a quality-of-life issue. This is in that same category. So we’ve opened the door. We’ve stepped through it. And this is one of the next logical things that people might do.”
While he does raise a somewhat valid point, people get surgery for things they don’t need already (such as plastic surgery), and who’s to say “optional” surgeries that improve quality of life aren’t still necessary? What’s more complicated, however, is the idea that the surgery (if it becomes commonplace) is expensive and could result in legal battles. According to the New York Times, The Cleveland Hospital’s ethics panel has given permission to attempt the procedure only 10 times, as an experiment.
With technology and progressions in medicine continually blurring the lines of parental ethics and legalities (remember Sofia Vergara’s husband suing her for her frozen eggs?), cases like these will be getting more and more common. Either way, I’m curious to see the outcome of these procedures, and I can only be supportive of a woman’s reproductive rights. Because hey, it’s her body.