How Egg Donation Works – Part 1
Egg donation is a modification of the process of IVF. There are several steps involved.
- Recruitment of an egg donor
- Screening / testing of the egg donor
- Synchronization of the egg donor and recipient
- Stimulation of the egg donor with fertility medication and preparation of the recipient uterus
- Retrieval of the egg donor‘s eggs
- Fertilization and culture of the egg donor‘s eggs
- Transfer of the embryos into the recipient’s uterus
Recruitment of an Egg Donor
An egg donor can be someone who is either known to the recipient couple ahead of time or not. A known egg donor can be anyone who is not closely related to the male partner who will be providing the sperm. An egg donor CAN be related to the female partner. Sisters, nieces, cousins or even daughters from previous partners are acceptable candidates to be a known egg donor.
If a couple does not have a suitable known egg donor or does not feel comfortable with a known egg donor then they can try to find a new egg donor. There are many resources for finding new egg donors. Many of our patients are choosing to recruit their own egg donors by placing advertisements in local newspapers or by placing signs up at local colleges or beauty salons. Some of our recipients have found potential egg donors on the internet and still others will use an egg donor agency (though this is a very expensive method).
IVF1 maintains a large database of young women who are interested in becoming egg donors for our patients. The donors here have found IVF1 in a number of different ways. Occasionally, they have answered advertisements from previous patients and either were not chosen or they decided to donate more than once. Others have donor a Google search to find fertility programs like IVF1. Others may have heard about us in the news.
If you decide to recruit your own egg donor, the most important thing to be aware of is that anonymity in egg or sperm donation is no longer possible. Any child born from egg donation will carry the donor’s DNA. It is now possible, because of the popularity of DNA testing services such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA, for an individual to find relatives.
Therefore, an egg donor could identify your child through such testing and online family trees. Likewise, you child could find the identity of a donor in the same way.
If you are comfortable with the fact that complete anonymity is not possible, when trying to advertise for a donor, you should still do it in a way that preserves your privacy as much as possible. Here is an example of a well crafted ad:
Nice couple seeks young woman to be an egg donor. Must be under 25 years old. Compensation will be given. Apply at ivf1match.com. Use the code name “baby1”.
By using a code name (be sure to choose your own), the donor applicant does not know who you are. Other individuals will not know who you are. When the donor applies online, we will know that this is a donor responding to your ad by the code name.
We will review the information the donor completes online. If the egg donor candidate seems acceptable then we will notify you of her donor code and you can go online and review the questionnaire. You can then choose whether you want to use this egg donor applicant or wait for another to respond.
If an acceptable egg donor applicant is not chosen by the recruiting recipient couple, we will ask her if she is willing to donate eggs for another couple in our practice. If she agrees, we will change her designation in our database from “matched” to “available”.
Medical Screening of an Egg Donor
The initial questionnaire that the donor fills out asks about several aspects of her life:
- Work Experience
- Medical History
- Reproductive History
- Family Medical History
- Sexual Practices
- Infection Risk
- Psychological History
- Social Habits (tobacco, alcohol, drugs)
- Physical characteristics
- Previous Egg Donor Experience
When an egg donor applicant is chosen for further screening, she is asked to come to the office to meet with us. At that time, we will go over her initial application and discuss any unclear areas. We will review the process of egg donation and what will be expected of her if she agrees to donate. We also review the risks and side effects associated with her treatment. If she is still interested in donating eggs, we will begin medical screening on her. The medical screening includes:
- Day 3 Estradiol and FSH levels
- Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) level
- Transvaginal ultrasound for ovarian volume.
Testing for transmissible diseases
As of May 25, 2005, the FDA is requiring significantly enahnced testing for all reproductive tissue donors including egg donors. This involves a more extensive medical history, a more extensive physical exam and a wider array of test for infectious disease.
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HIV /AIDS
- RPR / syphyllis
The donor must have these tests performed as part of her initial screening for donor eligibility. She will also have the testing again shortly before the egg retrieval. A potential egg donor may be decalred ineligible at any point during testing.
Testing for Hereditary Problems
- Chromosome test (Karyotype)
- Comprehensive genetic carrier screening panel
If the egg donor applicant passes the above tests, then she will be acceptable to use as an egg donor.