Why America's First Uterus Transplant Failed

Lindsey McFarland was so close
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2016 4:15 PM CDT
Yeast Infection Ruins First US Uterus Transplant
Lindsey and her husband, Blake, stand with Cleveland Clinic medical staff as they announce she was the nation's first uterus transplant patient on Monday in Cleveland.   (Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer via AP)

Lindsey McFarland made history in February by becoming America's first recipient of a uterus transplant. Then her dream of finally bearing children was put on hold—if not dashed—by something that forced doctors to remove the transplant. Turns out it was nothing more than a common yeast infection, the New York Times reports. The 26-year-old Texas resident, who has three adopted boys, made headlines in March when her recovery from surgery seemed to be going well at the Cleveland Clinic. "I was 16 and was told I would never have children and from that moment on, I've prayed that God would allow me that opportunity to experience pregnancy," she said in a wheelchair beside her husband Blake, per CNN. "And here we are today at the beginning of that journey." But after about two weeks, she suddenly started to bleed.

Facing a yeast infection that blocked blood flow to the uterus, doctors had to remove the transplant. Sadly, the very drugs McFarland was taking to prevent organ rejection also stopped her immune system from staving off an infection—even one that women typically treat with over-the-counter drugs. "It was extremely disappointing for our entire team and, more importantly, for the patient and her family," one of her surgeons tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cleveland Clinic has put its uterus-transplant project on hold, but on the bright side, Swedish doctors have performed lasting uterus transplants, and three more US medical centers are planning their own programs. As for McFarland, she's recovering again. "If in the future we're successful and she wants to have another protocol, it might be possible," says the lead doctor on her surgical team. "Technically, it's possible." (Read about a woman who lost her vision from weight-loss surgery.)

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