UAB Launches First Uterus Transplant Program In Southeast

 1575184582 
1603811862

Jennifer Gobrecht and her husband hold their son Benjamin, born in 2019 after Gobrecht received a uterus transplant at the University of Pennsylvania.

Penn Medicine

Doctors estimate that worldwide, hundreds of thousands of women cannot get pregnant because they either do not have a uterus or they have one that does not function properly. For some, uterine transplantation provides an option to bear children. 

UAB Hospital announced last week it would begin offering this procedure, making it the first program in the southeast and the only institution in the nation to offer uterus transplants outside of a clinical trial. 

A Life-Enhancing Procedure

Surgeon Dr. Paige Porrett, who is leading UAB’s program, said uterine transplantation is fairly new. Doctors in Sweden conducted the first surgery in 2014 and initially Porrett was not convinced about the procedure.

“I was not a big fan of the idea or the concept of uterus transplantation when I was first introduced to it,” she said.

Unlike with a heart or kidney, a uterus transplant is not necessary to survive. But Porrett said the potential impact is significant.

“It was after I began to be introduced to the community that this transplant can serve that I began to change my mind,” she said. 

Another Option

Porrett said she was moved by people like Jennifer Gobrecht, who gave birth to her son Benjamin about a year ago. 

“He’s got four teeth,” she said. “He’s almost crawling. He likes to roll a lot.”

Gobrecht was born without a uterus, a condition that affects about one in 4500 women. She said there are other options, like using a gestational carrier, but the process can be complicated and not always accessible. 

Gobrecht participated in a clinical trial led by Porrett at the University of Pennsylvania, one of three uterine transplant research trials in the country. 

She said she was excited to try the transplant, not only to become pregnant, but also to help pave the way for other women. 

“The part that kind of attracted me was the medical advancement,” Gobrecht said. “There was a lot of research to this, which was part of my passion.”

Looking Ahead

The uterine transplant process takes years and involves months of evaluation, several surgeries, anti-rejection drugs and in vitro fertilization.

Unlike other transplants, it is temporary. After a woman has given birth once or twice via cesarean section, the transplanted uterus is removed.

According to Porrett, there have been an estimated 80 uterine transplants worldwide, with more than 20 resulting in live births. 

While some programs accept organ donations from live donors who offer to have their uterus removed, the program at UAB Hospital will only use deceased donors. Doctors hope to complete their first uterine transplant by summer of 2021.

Editor’s Note: UAB holds WBHM’s broadcast license but our news and business departments operate independently.

 

Cameras, iPads part of plan to improve garbage collection

The City Council approved a software that they say will streamline garbage routes and and improve accountability.

Alabama ‘execution survivor’ reaches settlement with state

Any future effort to execute Alan Eugene Miller will be done by nitrogen hypoxia, an execution method authorized in Alabama but that has never been used to carry out a death sentence in the U.S.

Attorneys: ‘Botched’ execution caused pain and torture

Kenneth Eugene Smith’s attorneys say he was “subjected to ever-escalating levels of pain and torture” on the night of the failed execution.

Auburn hires Liberty’s Hugh Freeze, who’s coming back to SEC

Auburn athletic director John Cohen announced on Monday the hiring of Freeze, who spent the last four seasons as coach at Liberty.

Slavery’s ghost haunts cotton gin factory’s transformation

What was once the world's largest cotton gin factory is being renovated into apartments. Some people in Prattville want the stories of the enslaved people who built and worked in the factory told along with that of its founder, Daniel Pratt.

Birmingham City Council approves violence-reduction effort for city high schools

The program involves community mentors, called “coaches,” meeting with groups of at-risk students twice a week.

More Front Page Coverage