Dr. Jacques Donnez, a highly decorated surgeon from Belgium, will receive EndoFound’s Harry Reich Award this weekend for his lifelong contributions to the healthcare of women with endometriosis.
The foundation will present the award to Dr. Donnez at the 14th Annual International Medical Conference on April 1 and 2 at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Dr. Donnez will also give the keynote speech on the second day titled, “Deep endometriosis: The place of laparoscopic shaving.”
Dr. Donnez has focused much of his research for the past 40 years on endometriosis, tubal infertility, and ovarian cryopreservation and transplantation.
“After my many years of work and as I get toward the end of my academic life, I’m very proud that Dr. Tamer Seckin (founder of EndoFound) and Dr. Dan Martin (EndoFound’s scientific director) would choose me for this,” he said.
Dr. Donnez studied medicine at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. In 1986, he became head of the school’s Department of Gynaecology and Andrology and founded the Academic Infertility Research Unit. He was the founding president of the European Society of Gynecological Endoscopy, the first president of the World Endometriosis Society, and the first president of the International Society for Fertility Preservation. He has published more than 700 articles in peer-review journals and was elected to the Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine in 2009. He serves today at the Catholic University of Louvain as a Professor Emeritus and director of the Infertility Research Unit.
Dr. Donnez’s most significant contribution to endometriosis care is the shaving technique for deep rectovaginal endometriotic nodules. It involves shaving endometriosis nodules off the bowel without needing a bowel resection, a complex surgery of removing some or all of the small and large intestines.
“There are too many bowel resections in the world that don’t need to be done,” Dr. Donnez said. “The complication rate for a bowel resection is high in young women, which is why we have to try to restrict the number we do during deep endometriosis surgery.”
Dr. Donnez has written several papers on the technique. In an article published in 2012, he and his team stated that they used the shaving technique instead of a bowel resection in 3,298 cases, and “Laparoscopic nodule resection was performed successfully in all cases.” Major complications, such as rectal perforation and ureteral injury, occurred in just 2 percent of the cases. “This complication rate is much lower than that observed after bowel resection,” they noted in the abstract. “In young women, conservative surgery using the shaving technique means preservation of organs, nerves, and the vascular blood supply. The shaving technique yields low complication and recurrence rates and should be considered the first line in surgical approach in the case of deep endometriotic lesions.”
Dr. Donnez said doctors who normally do bowel resections should explain and offer the shaving option to patients.
“Concerning the choice of the patient, what does a patient want?” he said. “The patient wants to be free of symptoms, have a normal bladder function, and have a normal sex life—and with the most conservative surgery. We should do the maximum we can to protect all organs.”
Dr. Donnez will explain the shaving technique in more detail during his keynote speech on Sunday, scheduled from 10:30 to 11 A.M. To register to attend, visit www.endofound.org/medicalconference.