Sammy Nickalls
November 22, 2015 1:14 pm

Trans women who want to carry children may very soon be able to, thanks to a groundbreaking Ohio clinic. Uterus transplants have been successfully conducted in Sweden, but the Cleveland Clinic has been working on carrying out the procedure for the first time in the United States, according to the New York Times — allowing women “who were born without a uterus, had it removed, or have uterine damage” to be able to carry children.

Women will be able to have a uterus transplanted, then removed after one or two babies are delivered so the subject doesn’t have to keep taking anti-rejection medication. This could be absolutely revolutionary for women who are unable to have children on due to uterine factor infertility. “I crave that experience,” a 26-year-old woman in the Cleveland Clinic’s screening process told New York Times. The woman was born with ovaries but without a uterus. “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.”

Trans women are able to suppress male hormones and introduce female hormones, possess lactating breasts, and have surgically constructed vaginas, as Yahoo News notes — but this surgery could allow them to carry a fetus, as well. “For the many transgender people who struggle with the impact transitioning can have on their reproductive capabilities, this procedure could provide comfort and peace of mind,” Sarah McBride, an LGBT advocate who works for the Center for American Progress, told Mic.

“[H]uman drive to be a mother for a woman is a very serious thing,” plastic surgeon Dr. Christine McGinn, a transgender woman and mother of twins, told Yahoo News. “Transgender women are no different.”

So far, Sweden is the only country where uterine transplants have successfully been completed. The Swedish team found that a uterus from a woman past menopause can still carry a pregnancy if transplanted into a younger recipient. Nine women have undergone the surgery from a live donor, with four successfully giving birth, all with babies born healthy but premature. However, two of the transplants have failed and had to be removed due to infections and blood clots.

According to the New York Times, the clinic plans to perform the procedure 10 times as an experiment before deciding whether to continue. “There are women who won’t adopt or have surrogates, for reasons that are personal, cultural or religious,” the clinic’s director of solid organ transplant surgery at the Cleveland Clinic hospital Dr. Andreas G. Tzakis told the New York Times. “These women know exactly what this is about. They’re informed of the risks and benefits. They have a lot of time to think about it, and think about it again. Our job is to make it as safe and successful as possible.”

Dr. Alan Lichtin, the chairman of the Cleveland clinic’s 15-member ethics board, told the New York Times that it took approximately a year to produce a board-approved plan — and that the final vote was in the vast majority in favor of the medical procedure. “I think our initial impression was: ‘Wow. This is really pushing the envelope,’ ” Dr. Lichtin told New York Times. “But this is the way human progress occurs.”

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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