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First U.S. Uterus Transplant Failed Because of Fungal Infection

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The nation’s first uterus transplant failed last month because of a fungal infection that affected the blood supply to the new organ, doctors announced Friday.

The transplant was performed in late February, but the donated uterus had to be removed on March 8th, just a day after the patient, 26-year old Lindsey McFarland, went public about the procedure. The infection was caused by Candida albicans, a common fungus that causes yeast infections. Dr. Andreas Tzakis, program director of the transplant center, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the fungus doesn’t usually cause uterine infections, but a combination of the immune suppressing drugs and the invasive surgery likely contributed to the infection.

McFarland was told at 16 that she could not carry children, and has three adopted kids with her husband. She is reportedly taking the setback well, which Dr. Tzakis says reflects her strength of character and the careful selection process for the clinic’s first transplant patient. “We are very careful when we select our patients to carefully select those who we think can handle the surgery and the possible complications of the surgery,” he said. “This is a really wonderful young lady with a lot of family support. You could not have hoped for a better response from her.”

Dr. Tzakis emphasized that despite the infection, he considers the uterine transplant an encouraging success. “It’s clear from these studies that technically these transplants are possible,” he said.


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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com