Rich Vaughn, IFLG: 1st US Birth Via Uterine Transplant Offers New Infertility Treatment Option

1st U.S. Birth Via Uterine Transplant Offers New infertility Treatment Option

U.S. fertility specialists and reproductive advocates are celebrating the June birth of the first healthy baby delivered in the United States following a successful uterine transplant from a deceased donor.

The baby was born via cesarean section last month to a woman at the Cleveland Clinic, a participant in the clinic’s trial for women with uterine factor infertility, as CNN reported recently. The June 2019 birth was the second live birth resulting from a uterine transplant from a deceased donor: the first occurred in 2017 in Brazil, when a 32-year-old woman born without a womb delivered a child after receiving a uterus donated by a 45-year-old woman who'd died of a stroke.

As described by the Cleveland Clinic, uterine factor infertility, which includes both women who were born with no uterus or uterine damage and those injured by infection or medical procedure, affects 3 percent to 5 percent of females, an estimated 50,000 women in the United States alone. As explained in the description of the clinical trial, for some women with the condition, uterine transplantation may represent the only option for parenthood:

Existing options for women affected by [uterine factor infertility] UFI are limited to adoption or maternal surrogacy…. Adoption and surrogacy are considered acceptable options for many women with UFI. For others, due to social, ethical, cultural and/or religious reasons, these options are not permissible. In many countries around the world, maternal surrogacy is illegal, leaving no option for UFI patients to conceive a biological child.

The Cleveland Clinic also was the site, in 2016, of the first uterine transplant in the U.S., also from a deceased donor. In that case, physicians removed the transplanted uterus from the 26-year-old recipient a month after implantation due to a sudden complication, according to the CNN report.

There have been a total of 11 human uterine transplants worldwide, the first performed in Saudi Arabia in 2000, according to the Cleveland Clinic. As is the case with all organ transplants, rejection of the transplanted uterus is a constant risk, and the recipient is treated with immunosuppressive drugs to combat it. Researchers studied the effects of the anti-rejection drugs on pregnant women who underwent kidney and liver transplants to help avoid complications with the uterine transplants, CNN reported.

Even with the recent successful birth, uterine transplantation as a treatment for infertility is still in its infancy. In current practice, the transplant is considered “ephemeral”; that is, the intent is to remove the transplanted uterus following the birth of one or two children. Like procedures such as face transplants or hand transplants, a uterine transplant is classified as a “life-enhancing” rather than a “life-saving” procedure. As the technology becomes more widely available and results more consistent, it is sure to be a “life-changing” option for many would-be mothers.


Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.