In the Case of Pioneering Fertility Expert Dr. Sherman Silber, M.D.
An inquisitive infertility specialist at St. Luke’s Hospital started innovative fertility preservation work four decades ago—and people around the world are glad he did. Some even fondly call him “The Egg Man.”
Dr. Sherman Silber, M.D., is director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield. He’s also now considered one of the world’s leading authorities in that area of medicine.
He invented most of the infertility treatments now popular today in IVF, sperm retrieval, ICSI, vasectomy reversal, tubal ligation reversal, egg and embryo freezing, ovary transplantation and the reproductive biological clock. In fact, he performed the world’s first ovary and testicle transplants, created and popularized the microsurgical vasectomy reversal, and popularized ovarian tissue freezing to preserve female fertility.
He also was the first to research the genetic causes of infertility in men and developed the TESE-ICSI technique for extracting sperm from men with low or nonexistent sperm counts and direct injection of the sperm into the egg. Additionally, this physician studied fertility in animals and performed microscopic surgery on chimpanzees, South American bush dogs, Przewalski’s horse, gorillas, wolves and other endangered species.
Due to his steadfast results, St. Luke’s Hospital is now known for some of the world’s most leading-edge therapies for couples facing infertility issues. The hospital consistently ranks among the nation’s top 10 fertility centers, based on success rates.
A Discovery Health Channel documentary once stated: “Infertile couples from all over the world come to St. Louis, to chase their dream because Dr. Sherman Silber and his team are simply the best there is.”
Indeed, Dr. Silber’s patients hail from every U.S. state, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. His patients include other doctors, teachers, rock stars, secretaries, politicians, astronauts, movie stars, scientists, truck drivers, lawyers, migrant fruit pickers, CEOs, princes and kings.
He’s authored three medical textbooks, five best-selling consumer books and more than 250 scientific papers on human infertility and reproduction, too.
Dr. Silber has appeared on The Today Show, The Donahue Show, Gary Collins’ Hour Magazine, Peter Jennings’ ABC Nightly News, Ted Koppel’s Nightline, along with Oprah and Charlie Rose. He’s also consulted for the Joan Rivers Show and ABC News and has contributed to CNN, KMOX, WOR and NPR radio.
He even answered the age-old question of why the dinosaurs went extinct by extending his research on male infertility and the Y chromosome, discovering that the change in earth temperature 65,000,000 years ago led to the birth of a skewed male/female sex ratio.
In addition to St. Luke’s Hospital, Dr. Silber works from medical facilities and clinics at M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Tokyo; New York; the University of Amsterdam; and Sun Yat-sen University in China.
“One in every 250 young women today is a cancer survivor, but cancer treatment usually leaves these women sterile,” Dr. Silber says. “In essence, it castrates these young girls chemically and radiologically while curing the cancer.”
With ovary freezing and transplantation, Dr. Silber says, women can preserve their fertility for the future.
“This medical advance brings a tremendous feeling of optimism to young women with cancer, as well as those who need to postpone childbearing for other reasons,” he says. “It gives women with cancer the emotional message that we are expecting them to be cured, and 90 percent are cured.”
Just One of Dr. Silber’s Success Stories:
One area cancer survivor is ecstatic with Dr. Silber’s knowledge and expertise.
When Amy Tucker was 19, she was diagnosed with advanced cancer and was told she would never have children, even if her cancer could be cured.
In 1997, Amy’s treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma began with chemotherapy. She did go into remission, but her cancer returned. In 1998, she needed more sterilizing cancer treatment. One of her health care providers told her about Dr. Silber’s pioneering research in fertility preservation, and she decided to have him remove and freeze one of her ovaries.
Amy has been in remission since 2001. But the treatment that saved her life also left her menopausal and otherwise unable to have children.
“Freezing my ovary didn’t delay chemo treatment, so I gave it a shot,” Amy says. “I didn’t really have time to think how life-changing transplants might be.”
In January 2009, Amy returned to Dr. Silber so he could transplant her ovarian tissue, which more than a decade earlier was frozen. By working with him, she became a grateful mother of a son born in 2010: Grant Patrick Tucker.
Dr. Silber says Amy is the first U.S. cancer survivor to give birth to a baby as a result of ovary freezing and transplantation.
Amy kept on that path with Dr. Silber, but the second section of her frozen ovary never resulted in a pregnancy. Still remaining optimistic, Amy and her husband tried another transplant from the third and last section of her frozen ovary, which fortunately resulted in their daughter, Faith, being born in 2016.
She says after they had two children, of both genders, they were thinking life is good. Then, boom—the surprise pregnancy of twins came along! Harper and Avery were born about 16 months later in 2018.
“I think we were in shock during that entire pregnancy,” she admits.
Amy’s tip to others facing infertility is to accept there will be struggles but to lean on faith, be open to new research and to allow things to happen in time.