Donor Egg Program FAQS
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specific regulations for screening egg donors (primarily for infectious diseases) and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has recommendations for who should, or should not, donate eggs. Generally speaking, egg donors need to: have good physical and emotional health, appropriate weight for height, excellent personal character and be free of any obvious genetic diseases based on their personal and family medical history.
Egg donors come to our Utah donor egg program for various individual reasons. Many know someone who has experienced infertility and they want to help couples experience the joys of pregnancy and having a family. For some, the monetary compensation is an additional incentive.
Couples choose egg donation for reasons based on their individual circumstances. Some women’s ovaries are incapable of producing a fertile egg. Using an egg donor and adoption are options for these couples. The benefits to choosing an egg donor would include control over the prenatal care of the developing fetus, the woman would be able to experience the joys of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing a baby and the couple would be able to use the sperm of the husband. This can be especially important when the woman has had children but the man has not.
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends that donors can donate up to six times. To the best of our knowledge this was an arbitrary recommendation but for most instances it is reasonable. We are not aware of any research or scientific data that shows additional donations are dangerous or causes additional increased risk.
Donors have two types of time commitments needed to become an egg donor, the screening process and the egg donation cycle. Screening Process - RCC's donor egg program has a comprehensive screening/interview process for egg donor candidates. Initially the applicant will submit the online preliminary application. After initial review, the applicant will be invited to attend a group orientation (anticipate 1 hour). Then two forms will be submitted: (1) the Medical and Genetic History form and (2) the Personal and Family Questionnaire. It will require 35-40 minutes to complete each from. Additional time may be needed to collect the family medical information. Each applicant will have an individual interview. The last steps are to obtain a professional photograph and complete ovarian reserve (egg quality) testing. Egg quality is judged based on a blood draw done on day 3 of the egg donor’s menstrual cycle. Egg Donation cycle - The entire egg donation cycle will take approximately 6-8 weeks. The first month is done at home and takes a few minutes each day (taking a birth control pill and Lupron injection daily). The last two weeks require the egg donor to have a more flexible schedule to attend 5-7 monitoring appointments for a blood draw and ultrasound (15-30 minutes for each appointment) during the hours of 8:00am-12:00pm. On the day of the egg retrieval, the procedure will take about 30 minutes, and there is a resting/recovery time of 1-2 hours for the anesthesia to wear off. Typically the egg donor is in the office a total of 3-4 hours the day of the egg retrieval.
Through ultrasound guidance, eggs are retrieved from the egg donor’s ovaries through the vagina. The actual egg retrieval procedure will consist of a brief outpatient surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia but no incisions or suturing is required.
The egg donor will need to have someone assist her getting home; if she does not have someone available, necessary accommodations may be made with the assistance of the Donor Egg Coordinator.
With any medical procedure there are always risks involved. Dr. James S. Heiner, Dr. Keith L. Blauer, Dr. Harry Hatasaka, and Dr. Brad B. Swelstad are Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologists, Infertility Specialists, with extensive medical and surgical experience. The goal is for the recipient couple to become pregnant, however, the prevailing concern is for the health and well being of the egg donor. There is a small risk of infection, bleeding and a 1-2% risk of ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS). These will be discussed in more detail during the initial visit.
All costs are covered by the recipient couple or RCC. An insurance policy for medical complications of IVF is purchased for the egg donor (paid for by the recipient couple through RCC). Once the donor begins her injectable medicines coverage begins. The policy will cover up to $250,000 in any related complications and, to be on the safe side, a $100,000 life insurance policy. Our commitment is to make egg donation as safe as possible for the egg donor.
The donated eggs will be combined in the laboratory with sperm collected from the recipient’s husband’s to achieve fertilization. Resultant embryos will later be transferred into the recipient’s uterus. Based on the recipient couple’s desires, additional embryos may be cryopreserved (frozen) to be used in the future, donated to other infertile couples, used for research, or discarded.
Prior to donating, egg donors sign consent forms that relinquish all rights to the eggs that are retrieved, and to any parental rights, and/or responsibility to children born from those eggs.
The egg donor will be given a donor number and will be placed on the egg donor list with all identifying information removed (names, address, etc). The egg donor will be identified to recipient couples only by their donor number. The egg donor’s information will be made available to RCC patients and to out of state IVF clinics that use RCC’s egg donors.
RCC offers an in-house egg donor agency that allows recipient couples the option of selecting their own donor. How quickly an egg donor is matched is dependent upon the number of recipient couple's available and what particular traits the recipient couple is looking for in an egg donor. Each recipient couple has different priorities when deciding on the donor. Some factors that affect their decision are physical characteristics, education background, race, height, weight, interests and medical history. Some donors may be chosen immediately, while others may be on the list for several years before being picked. Some may never be picked solely because there was never a match with a recipient couple.
At RCC, most egg donors donate anonymously to recipient couples. In an anonymous donation, the identity of the donor and recipient is not disclosed. Some times a couple will want to use a family member (such as a sister or niece) or friend as their egg donor. In these circumstances, the egg donor is a known donor, but in all other cases identity is kept anonymous and confidential unless mutually agreed to by both parties.
During the screening process personal and identifying information is gathered from applicants. Before the medical and genetic history forms and personal information forms are made available for potential recipients to view, all identifying information is removed. All potential recipients can view very basic information online regarding egg donors. Only couples seriously considering egg donation are given password access to view the medical and genetic history form, the personal information questionnaire, and childhood photos for the various donors. Due to sensitivity, adult photos may only be viewed by couples at the clinic in the presence of a staff member.
Egg donors can remain on RCC’s egg donor list from the age of 21 until the age of 33, if desired. During this time some donors decide to have children of their own, at which time they will be removed from the list. Donors can be removed from the list temporarily, but can be put back on the list after the donor has delivered and has stopped breast feeding.
When reviewing medical and genetic history forms from donor applicants, the main concern is for the health of the future child, to ensure that that child will have the best chance at a healthy life. When an egg donor is not accepted into the program it could be for various reasons including: the donor has a strong family history of genetic or medical diseases, the donor did not completely and honestly fill out the application, or sometimes that egg donor has a small chance of being selected by a recipient couple. The fact that the applicant has an interest in donating says she is a very kind and generous person.
No. Excluding rare complication there should no affect on a donor’s fertility. Women are born with 1-2 million eggs in their ovaries. During egg retrieval, approximately 8-20 eggs are removed. After donating, there are plenty of eggs remaining in the woman’s ovaries for use when she desires to start or expand her own family. Numerous donors have children of there own after donating for multiple cycles.