New Hope Fertility Center’s Founder and Medical Director Dr. John Zhang recently returned from China’s Guangdong province after successfully completing the country’s first ovarian tissue transplant.
Along with Dr. Sherman Silber, the two New Hope doctors donated their expertise to conduct the procedure, which was performed at the Reproductive Medicine Research Center (RMRC) of the 6th Affiliated Hospital at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China. Dr. Zhang introduced Dr. Liang of RMRC to the procedure, who had also read Silber’s publications focused on his experience with ovarian tissue transplants.
The identical twin sisters, who are 31 years of age, each underwent the minimally invasive surgery for less than 6 hours, transferring part of the healthy ovarian tissue from the donor sister to Fang (pseudonym), who suffered from premature ovarian failure (doctors speculate this was due to her exposure to chemicals at work as a young adult).
Fang’s sister was able to act as donor without either of the twins having to take anti-rejection medications since they have identical loci (the specific location of a DNA sequence a chromosome). The two sisters left the operating room with a scar just 1 to 2 inches long, and the donor sister has since fully recovered. Her ovarian function was not affected by the surgery since the procedure required only a small portion of her ovarian tissue.
According to Chinese reports, Fang’s ovarian failure caused her to exhibit the physiological and physical traits of a 60 year old menopausal woman. Along with struggling with the issues that arise with infertility, Fang had to deal with looking old enough to be her twin’s mother, while also experiencing the symptoms that come with menopause — dryness, sensitivity, and depression, among other things.
Thanks to the expert hands of Dr. John Zhang and Dr. Sherman Silber; however, Fang’s premature aging is now a thing of the past. Within a week, Fang will be able to return to a normal and healthy sex life, and within just 3 months, Fang’s ovarian function will return as regular menstruation sets in, making it possible for her to conceive naturally for the first time in 7 years.
Fang and her doctors in China decided to go forward with the ovarian transplant due to a shortage of egg donors. Ovarian transplants yield similar pregnancy rates to those who use donor eggs to conceive, and are favorable in cases where there is a desire to restore ovarian function so the patient can conceive naturally (versus oocyte donation, which still requires fertility treatment and does not restore ovarian function).
Congratulations to the father of New Hope on this enormous achievement!