Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are prepping for what they hope will be, in a few months, a US first: the transplant of a uterus into an otherwise healthy woman so she can get pregnant. A New York Times special report notes that eight healthy women from around the country are already undergoing screening for the pioneering process, which would involve placing a temporary uterus from a deceased donor into an infertile woman—either someone without a uterus or someone with a damaged one—and then removing it after she's had two babies max to prevent her from continued exposure to transplant anti-rejection drugs. Sweden is the only country where such transplants have successfully taken place, the Times notes, with four healthy, albeit premature, births (one more is expected in January) out of nine transplants.
What's given some pause: Healthy women will be getting transplants they don't need for health reasons, and fetuses will be exposed to the anti-rejection drugs and the risks of "developing inside a womb taken from a dead woman," as the Times puts it. But a lead doctor doesn't anticipate many complications, and a medical ethicist tells the paper: "We're doing lots of things to help people have babies in ways that were never done before. [This] falls into that spectrum." One of the women being screened says it's everything she's dreamed of. "I crave that experience," she tells the Times. "I want the morning sickness, the backaches, the feet swelling. I want to feel the baby move." Read the full report on the incredibly complicated transplant process. (Read more uterus stories.)