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Donor Egg Program

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Fertility depends on the health of a woman's eggs. Some women, though, are unable to produce healthy eggs and, to date, there is no current therapy to restore an egg's capacity and regain its fertility potential. This leaves women in need of donated eggs.

Our Centers have developed an extensive and highly successful program to help women who need healthy donated eggs to become pregnant and achieve their dreams of having children. Some Centers have an extensive list of fully screened, ethnically diverse egg donors that are available without any wait. With strict adherence to national regulations, these donor egg programs have donors immediately available, which allows a woman to choose her own donor and go forward with treatment without being placed on a waiting list.

Dedicated, experienced staff help potential donor egg recipients explore their options and prepare for treatment. Staff also carefully select donors for the program and guide them through the process of producing and donating their healthy eggs.

Egg Donors

An egg donor is a woman generally between the ages of 21 and 31, in good health, who has made the decision to donate her healthy eggs to a woman who is unable to conceive through natural means.

Preferably, but not necessarily, the egg donor has had at least one healthy baby of her own, thereby demonstrating her own fertility. The egg donor candidate is a woman who can exhibit the emotional stability necessary to complete the egg donor procedure and, of her own free will, be willing to donate her eggs to the recipient.

There are two types of egg donors - the anonymous egg donor and the known egg donor. The anonymous donor does not know who the recipient of her eggs will be. Likewise, except for basic physical and psychological characteristics, the recipient does not know the identity of the anonymous donor. About 80 percent of donors are anonymous. The known donor, on the other hand, is a woman who is known to the recipient either as a relative or friend or through introduction.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Anonymous donors have the advantage of having no emotional strings attached to the recipient. The anonymous donor, however, is also faced with the issue of relinquishing control over the disposition of her genetic material. Donors who are friends or relatives of the recipient have the advantage of knowing to whom they are donating their genetic material. On the other hand, the recipient of a known donor deals with emotional ties and lack of confidentiality.

Counselors are available to help donors and recipients deal with these issues. Egg donors usually come away with feelings of satisfaction knowing they may have helped recipients realize their dream of building a family.

Recipients of Donated Eggs

A donor egg recipient is a woman who is unable to conceive for a variety of reasons. In most cases, the recipient has tried many other forms of reproductive therapies, which have been unsuccessful due to limited ovarian reserve/response or age. Generally, recipients must meet an age limit and be in good general health.

Egg donation was originally developed to treat infertility in women who have ovarian failure and want to experience a pregnancy and birth. Some women are born with this problem; other women have lost their ovarian function at menopause, sometimes prematurely, or following medical treatment such as chemotherapy. Still other women carry genetic problems that they do not wish to pass on to their children.

Becoming a Donor Egg Recipient

In order to become a recipient, you must first establish yourself as a patient with a Center. An appointment with a physician includes a physical exam, sonogram and possibly blood work. You should bring all of your relevant past medical records for review by the physician. This may prevent duplication of screening or procedures. Once you have been identified as a recipient, you will meet with the Donor Egg Nurse Coordinator, who will review the entire process and provide you with the information you will need to proceed. Your next step would be screening.

Recipient screening generally includes:

  • Gynecological exam with vaginal cultures for communicable diseases
  • Blood tests for general screening
  • Psychological evaluation with partner

Recipients over the age of 45 may need additional testing to include:

  • Physical exam by a general medical doctor
  • Pre-pregnancy evaluation by a perinatologist.
  • Cardiac clearance
  • Fasting Lipid Panel
  • Homocystine level

Male partners of recipients generally are also screened:

  • Blood tests for communicable diseases
  • Blood tests for some genetic conditions
  • Semen analysis
  • Psychological evaluation with partner

Partners are generally asked to freeze a semen sample prior to a donor cycle for back-up purposes.

The recipient screening process is individual to your medical needs.

After your screening is complete, you should be ready to begin the donor selection process. You will likely begin reviewing anonymous donor applications. Donor applications contain the following information:

  • General physical characteristics
  • Educational background
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Genetic history
  • Family medical history
  • Reason for donating

Process and Procedure

Once you have selected a donor, you will likely meet with the donor egg nurse to review your treatment calendar. The treatment calendar contains the information for your cycle. All required appointments and office visits, as well as necessary medications to be taken, will likely be listed on your calendar. Some medications used are only available in the injectable form. Injection teaching will likely be made available to you and your partner so that the medications may be safely administered at home. Your cycle needs to be synchronized (timed together) with your donor. This may take up to six weeks. This process is achieved through the use of various medications.

Medication protocols are individualized to each patient's specific needs and decided upon by your physician. Medications are used in order to prepare your uterus to receive embryos. Blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds are used to determine uterine receptivity. When the uterine lining is sufficiently prepared, generally the following will occur:

  • Your donor will begin stimulation with medication to produce multiple follicles (fluid filled sacs that contain eggs).
  • Egg maturity is estimated based on hormone results and follicle size. This is evaluated by blood tests and transvaginal ultrasounds performed on the donor.
  • When the donor's eggs are thought to be mature, the donor takes the medication HCG, which readies the eggs for ovulation.
  • Eggs are retrieved before ovulation occurs. Egg retrieval is performed about 36 hours after HCG is administered.
  • If possible, your partner will need to provide a fresh semen sample on the day of the donor's retrieval to inseminate the eggs.
  • You will be notified regarding fertilization, the one or more days after the retrieval, by a nurse.
  • Embryos are transferred transvaginally with a thin catheter introduced into the uterus through the cervix utilizing ultrasound guidance.
  • It may be necessary to take certain medications to make the uterine lining more receptive to an embryo, attempting to implant and nourish a growing pregnancy.
  • Approximately 12-14 days after your transfer, you will be scheduled for a blood pregnancy test to determine if you are pregnant. Should your blood tests indicate you are pregnant, you would continue medications, and schedule an ultrasound with your physician.

There are generally three different fee options to choose from for Donor Egg Recipient Cycles.

Sole Recipient Cycle
This is a cycle in which you select a donor and you are the only recipient of the donor's eggs.

Primary Recipient Cycle
This is a cycle in which as a recipient, you pay upfront for the opportunity to share the cost of the donor cycle with another recipient (Secondary Recipient).

Secondary Recipient Cycle
This is a cycle in which you, as a secondary recipient, may select a donor and prepare to receive embryos, but may not receive embryos in the event that there are not enough oocytes (eggs) for two recipients.

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