Our 3 Tips for Finding The 'Perfect' Egg Donor
The fertility business is unlike any other. Third-party fertility is an unregulated arena with mostly good-hearted people with good intentions. Too often, we hear tales disappointment from intended parents who thought the journey would be straightforward. But if you arm yourself with some basic knowledge, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration.
Here are our top three things to know before you start looking for an egg donor.
1. Research the financial costs before you start looking and make a budget
There are a lot of costs involved in using an egg donor that you may not have thought of including, but not limited to, genetic screening, psychological screening, travel for the donor, agency fees and legal fees.
If you’re on a budget, choosing a donor from your clinic’s in house donor program, who is pre-screened and ready to cycle can be an attractive option. Donors with in clinics and frozen egg donor programs may be prescreened.
- a. This may or may not include genetic counseling which would then be followed by recommended testing as needed
- b. Blanket genetic screens give you some information but they don’t give you family history only information regarding genetic makers not all health issues have markers.
- c. Each genetic screen is different. Some test a broad range of genetic issues but not very deeply and others test a more narrow range but more deeply.
- d. Remember that everyone is a carrier of something. Finding out your donor is a carrier may not mean that you can’t work with her. The counselor can help you to understand the risk.
- e. You engage the genetic counselor who will interview you, your partner and the donor(s) you are interested in. The cost is minimal and well worth spending as you create your family
2. Understand what agencies do and don’t do
The primary job of an agency is to recruit egg donors. Most interview them either in person, by phone or via skype and have them complete an online profile.
Some agencies may Google the applicants to learn more about them but most do not.
Most don’t verify the donors’ GPA, SAT or ACT but will do this upon request.
Donors within most agencies are not prescreened. They must answer the FDA questions which may eliminated some candidates right away but usually, no medical, psychological or genetic screening is done in advance.
Donors are only medically screened once the intended parent has chosen them. This screening is part of the fee that you pay your clinic. The same goes for psychological screening – there are one or two agencies that do this but the majority do not psychologically screen donors until they are chosen by you the intended parent.
Genetic screening is not done by the agency and may or may not be done at your clinic. It is always best to ask your clinic and work with a genetic counselor who will consider both the donor’s family health history and yours as well.
Once a match is made the agency manages the donor and the cycle. The agency will liaise with your clinic to make all travel arrangements, and should keep you informed on timeline and scheduling.
3. Keep your expectations realistic
It’s good to have a wish list of features and traits but it’s also important to be flexible. There is no such thing as a perfect egg donor. There are many healthy, intelligent, and lovely young women who are open to being egg donors. Keep an open mind and realize that not everyone wants to be an egg donor. Super models don’t usually sign up to be egg donors though there are many very attractive donors that you can consider
Young women who have attended ivy-league schools with a 4.0 GPA are not typically signing up to be egg donors for a number of reasons. There are many bright young women to choose from who are ambitious, healthy, well rounded with a caring heart and who are ready and willing to be egg donors. The same is true for division one athletes, PhD candidates, or accomplished artist/musicians. Some women may feel that they have children out in the world rather than helping you to build their family. If they see this as a loss they shouldn’t be an egg donor. Her family or friends might judge her harshly for choosing to donate or feel she is giving away their grand children and if that is the case, she shouldn’t be an egg donor.
The bottom line is you can find just about anything you might want in an egg donor but you can’t always have every possible thing on your wish list in one person. It takes a very special woman who chooses to donate her eggs to help you have a baby. At the risk of being cliché, every person is unique. You need to choose your donor for her unique traits. No one can live up to another person’s concept of ideal. The ‘perfect’ egg donor is someone healthy, who is reasonably intelligent, who is available and willing to donate, and who will travel to your clinic. Ultimately, try to pick someone who you like for who she is, who feels like she’d fit into your tribe.