Inside Scope on Medical Truths: Study Leads To New Possibilities


Donya Forst

Donya Forst, Print Editor

Often we tend to forget about the innovative side of medicine because we are busy focusing on the negatives such as how a health professional “did this wrong,” or “this cure is not really working” for that disease or “hey, there’s an Ebola outbreak and there’s not much we can do to stop it.”

We are lucky to be alive in a time where research is a priority in healthcare. There are thousands, and maybe even millions, of scientists and students out in the world conducting research every day and coming up with new evidence to help people know about the causes of certain diseases, new medical experiments that give people a better quality of life and ground-breaking surgeries.

According to the National Institute of Health and The New York Times, the first uterus implant will take place at the Cleveland Clinic in the next few months. The procedure could give infertile women with ovaries, but no uteri, the chance to get pregnant. The study is highly experimental and will focus on 10 women of child-bearing age with Uterine Factor Infertility, which means the women were born without uteri. UFI affects one in 4,500 newborn girls. Candidates also include those who had uteri removed for medical reasons, or have those that no longer function.

A similar study in Sweden resulted in five pregnancies and four live births. The difference in the Cleveland study is that live donors will not be used. Doctors decided to use organs from deceased patients because this strategy limits risks to healthy donors.

The surgery and its protocols are not easy, but they do produce a satisfying reward. Women who are selected for the surgery must “begin the in vitro fertilization process by having their eggs fertilized with sperm at a laboratory and then frozen.” Once a donor is found – they must be a blood type and tissue match – and the next of kin has given consent, the transplant needs to take place within six to eight hours. After one year, when the uterus has had time to heal and prepare for pregnancy “the frozen embryos are thawed and implanted, one at a time, until the woman becomes pregnant.”

During this time and after birth, women will take anti-rejection drugs to lessen the chance of the body rejecting the uterus. These drugs are used for other transplant surgeries such as liver and kidney transplants, and because women are still able to get pregnant and have healthy babies, doctors have high hopes that if pregnancies take, 10 beautiful and healthy babies will be born.

Babies must be delivered by Caesarian section, and the uterus could either be removed or the women can try for a second pregnancy. After two births, for patient safety, doctors would remove the uterus.

If the study is successful, over 50,000 women in the United States alone could benefit from the procedure.

‘“I crave that experience,”’ said one of the women involved in the study who did not want to be named. ‘“I want the morning sickness, the backaches, the feet swelling. I want to feel the baby move. That is something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember.”’

Medicine is responsible for so many amazing discoveries and miracles. Who would have thought that one day we would be seeing something as extraordinary as this happening? And the best news is: Who knows what great finding will come next?