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Uterus Transplant Program offers new hope

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This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and UAB Medicine is home to a program bringing new hope to those struggling with infertility: the Uterus Transplant Program.

According to Fertility Answers®, one in eight couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. National Infertility Awareness Week is about removing the stigma around infertility and empowering those struggling to build a family.

In October 2020, amid a global pandemic, the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute launched the Southeast’s first uterus transplant program — only the fourth of its kind in the United States. Led by Paige Porrett, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery in the UAB Division of Transplantation, the program provides women who have uterine factor infertility with the only option to become pregnant and bear a biologic child without the use of a gestational carrier or surrogate.

Published April 21, 2021

Although uterus transplantation is not the answer for every couple struggling with infertility, it does provide a newfound hope for those with UFI who may only conceive with the help of this complex transplant. Specifically, women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome or women who have undergone a hysterectomy and had the uterus removed surgically are potential candidates for uterus transplantation.

In addition to the new Uterus Transplant Program, UAB Medicine’s Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Services is a longstanding advocate for patients and offers a wide range of services. While these services help many, some are left with minimal to no options based on the severity of their infertility issues.

The Uterus Transplant Program has screened candidates over the last several months and recently enrolled three women. One of the women, an Alabama native, has taken to social media to share her story and has started a GoFundMe page. While the road ahead for these patients is long and fraught with hurdles to overcome, Porrett is optimistic for her patients.

“Uterus transplant brings so much hope to patients with UFI,” Porrett said. “This hope extends even to women who are not candidates for transplant, as the mere existence of this transplant opportunity brings treatment to a community suffering from a devastating and previously refractory disease. There are many key celebratory milestones ahead for patients who enroll in the program, from embryo generation to successful transplantation, to pregnancy, and our team is prepared to guide our patients through the process, every step of the way.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, contact the UAB Medicine infertility clinic for information. Our team of experts can provide you with the care and education needed to make informed decisions about your options.

If you think you may be a candidate for the Uterus Transplant Program or would like more information, contact a member of the uterus transplant team at 833-822-2841.

(Published April 21, 2021)