The first uterus transplant attempted in the United States failed thanks to a health problem that plagues all women. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic were forced to remove a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor just two weeks after the initial surgery but were unable to confirm what had caused the transplant to fail, until now. Turns out, a yeast infection caused the first uterus transplant in the United States to be rejected.
Yeast infections have ruined a lot of things, including roughly six months of my sex life about three years ago, so I'm not completely surprised to hear they're now also destroying one woman's chance to have a child naturally.
"Preliminary results suggest that the complication was due to an infection caused by an organism that is commonly found in a woman's reproductive system," a brief statement issued by the Cleveland Clinic, who's surgeons performed the first-ever uterus transplant attempted in the U.S., said Friday. "The infection appears to have compromised the blood supply to the uterus, causing the need for its removal." Doctors confirmed it was the yeast Candida albicans that caused the infection.
"We are saddened to share that our patient, Lindsey, recently experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus," the Cleveland Clinic said in the statement released March 9, a day after doctors removed the uterus they had transplanted two weeks earlier to Lindsey McFarland. The 26-year-old reportedly developed a fever shortly after speaking to the press about why she chose to undergo the experimental procedure on March 8. "This presented in such an insidious way that it was a surprise," Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeon Dr. Andreas Tzakis told CNN.
Candida albicans is one of the more than 20 species of Candida yeast that are found naturally on humans' skin and mucous membranes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A yeast infection, or vulvovaginal candidiasis, occurs when there is an overgrowth of the yeast in the vagina. It's a common problem that will affect nearly 75 percent of all adult women in their lifetime, the CDC's website says.
The Cleveland Clinic said it was conducting an "ongoing review of all the data" in an effort to limit the chance of similar complications occurring in the future. The clinic told The New York Times it has decided to delay all of the 10 uterus transplants they'd planned to perform following the initial success of Lindsey's.
McFarland, who was born without a uterus and has three adopted children, had hoped to become pregnant through IVF. Her uterus transplant, like the others planned by the Cleveland Clinic, was meant to be temporary, lasting only a few years in order to allow a woman to have one or two babies due to the risk of rejection. The experimental procedure has been performed nine times in Sweden with five successful pregnancies, according to NBC News.
Any women who has ever found herself purchasing a box of Monistat or filling a prescription for Diflucan knows all too well the frustration and dread a yeast infection can bring. I won't pretend to speak for every woman but as a yeast infection survivor, my sympathy and well wishes are with McFarland.