First U.S. Patient to Receive Uterus Transplant 'Beyond Thankful' for Donor's Family
03/07/2016 AT 09:00 PM EST
"First and foremost I would like to take a moment to express the immense gratitude I feel towards my donor's family," the 26-year-old woman who has been identified only as Lindsey said at a news conference at the Cleveland Clinic. "They have provided me with a gift I will never be able to repay and I am beyond thankful for them."
Lindsey received the uterus from a deceased donor during a 9-hour surgery completed on Feb. 24. The goal is for Lindsey (and future patients) to be able to conceive and deliver one to two healthy children via C-section before the transplanted uterus is removed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
"Unlike any other transplants, [uterus transplants] are 'ephemeral,' " explains Cleveland Clinic's lead investigator Dr. Andreas Tzakis "They are not intended to last for the duration of the recipient's life, but will be maintained for only as long as is necessary to produce one or two children."
Lindsey will wait one year before trying to conceive through in-vitro fertilization – fulfilling her lifelong dream of carrying a child.
The young woman explained that she was told she would never be able to have children when she was 16. "From that moment on I have prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to experience pregnancy and here we are today at the beginning of that journey," she said.
Sweden reported the first successful birth following a womb transplant in 2014, according to the Associated Press. To date, the country has seen five healthy babies born from nine transplants. The transplant team at Cleveland Clinic trained with the Swedish surgeons during the 10 years they spent studying the procedure.
Lindsey, who said she is already a mother to three "beautiful little boys" adopted through foster care is the first of 10 patients Cleveland Clinic plans to attempt the procedure on as part of a clinical trial.