Dubai: After lungs, kidney, heart and eyes, the latest organ that is being transplanted is the uterus, and the organ might soon be added to the transplant programme of Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, according to Dr Tomasso Falcone, Medical Director and Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Speaking to Gulf News at the Arab Health forum in the Dubai World Trade Centre yesterday, Dr Falcone explained why uterus transplants were gaining ground.
“Women who are born without a uterus or undergo hysterectomy due to excessive post-partum bleeding or endometriosis, are left with three options of either staying childless, going in for adoption or using surrogacy. So, a transplant is a good option as they get to conceive the baby unlike surrogacy where they have to rent a womb which is banned in many countries.”
Dr Falcone is hopeful that once the ethical issues are resolved, it will clear the path for uterus transplants in the UAE, giving hope to many women born without a uterus. Since 2014, at least a dozen children have been born to women with wombs transplanted from live donors in Sweden, the US and Serbia.
Preference for live donor
In December 2018, the medical journal Lancet reported the birth of a child to a woman who had a cadaver uterus transplant.
Dr Falcone said: “Cadaver uterus transplants are less successful than live donor transplants. That is because when older, post-menopausal women die, their uterus cannot be used for transplant as there is a requirement to administer oestrogen to the donor for two months. The chances of younger women dying is slim and their uterus can be transplanted immediately. So, we prefer live donor transplants such as a mother or sister who may have experienced motherhood already. This individual has to be treated with oestrogen for two months to make the uterus fit to be transplanted in younger women. This is not possible in case of deceased donors.”
Dr Falcone added that a uterus transplant is referred to as an ‘ephemeral transplant’ — ephemeral meaning something that doesn’t last long — that is because the recipient has to take immunosuppressant drugs until she has the donor organ. She can conceive and bear her children and then have the uterus removed and completely stop the anti-rejection drugs, which is not the case with any other organ where the patient has to be lifelong on medicines.