Who Needs Donated Eggs?
Women who are unable to produce or use their own eggs require donated eggs. The following are some of the reasons why:
- Premature menopause
- Genetic abnormality
- Carriers of a genetic disorder
- Poor ovarian response to hormonal stimulation
- Absence of the ovaries
- Ovarian failure due to chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment
What Kind of People Donate Eggs?
Donors are anonymous unless the recipient chooses a family member or friend to be the egg donor. In both cases the donors undergo rigorous screening.
Potential egg donors come forward voluntarily for different reasons. The donors must undergo extensive screening to evaluate whether or not they will be suitable for egg donation. Donors must be between the ages of 21 and 31. They are asked to complete a detailed questionnaire, which is reviewed by our staff. If the questionnaire is favorable then they are interviewed. A potential donor’s medical history, both present and past as well as family history, is taken into careful consideration. Donors undergo a rigorous physical examination and an assessment by both a clinical psychologist and geneticist. The psychological evaluation ensures that the donor will be well adjusted without any underlying psychological problems. Potential donors are asked to complete a standardized psychological test. A careful genetic history is taken by a trained geneticist in order to ensure there are no hereditable disorders in the family. If there is any suspicion due to particular backgrounds, they are appropriately genetically screened. All egg donors are evaluated for cystic fibrosis, which is the most common hereditary disease in the United States.
All donors are carefully screened for sexually transmittable diseases and any other potential infectious diseases.
Also performed are a drug screen, cervical cultures for sexually transmittable diseases, hepatitis, HIV and syphilis. Ovarian reserve is assessed hormonally.
The donors are anonymous and the potential recipient is not disclosed to the donor, nor are the results of their cycle. Even though the program is anonymous, the recipient has available to review the donor’s profile, psychological evaluation and genetic evaluation. This allows the potential recipient to have, available at their fingertips, sufficient information to make an informed decision regarding their potential donor.
How Are Donors and Recipients Matched?
Recipients complete a profile form listing specific attributes they want from the donor. In addition to the specific attributes requested, physical characteristics are also used in matching. Our physicians play a vital role in assisting the coordinator in making appropriate matches with the donor. All matches are confidential.
Synchronization of Cycles
The cornerstone of egg donation is the synchronization of the ovarian cycles of both the egg donor and the recipient. This ensures that the embryos are placed in the recipient’s womb at the optimal time for implantation. Synchronization is achieved by the use of birth control pills and Lupron.
When both the donor and the recipient are regulated, the donor starts the fertility medication (gonadotropin injections) to stimulate her ovaries to produce eggs. The recipient will start her estrogen replacement prior to the donor starting her medications. While the donor is receiving the fertility medication to mature follicles to provide eggs, the estrogen the recipient is taking will prepare the lining of her uterus so it will be able to receive the embryos. The day the donor has the retrieval the recipient will start her progesterone protocol to help create the best possible condition for implantation of the embryos. The eggs are fertilized in the manner that offers the best chance of success. The method of fertilization (conventional versus ICSI) is agreed upon by the couple prior to insemination taking place.
Three or five days after the retrieval, the embryos are placed in the recipient’s uterus. Typically two embryos are transferred at the blastocyst stage of development. After the embryo transfer the recipient will continue taking the hormones and a pregnancy test will be performed in less than two weeks. If there is a surplus of embryos and they can be frozen, the couple is offered additional chances of conception. Since the woman does not need to undergo gonadotropin stimulation again, the cost is greatly reduced.
What Guarantees Are There with the Donor?
Donors come forward voluntarily. They can be either anonymous or are known. They are well-motivated and usually complete the treatment for egg donation. It is, however, completely within their rights to withdraw from treatment at any given time until egg retrieval
There may be a rare occasion when the donor does not produce enough follicles or stimulates too quickly. In either of these instances, the treatment cycle may be cancelled due to poor donor response or due to high risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.