Egg donation, also known as ovum donation, is simply that—when one woman undergoes treatment to have some of her eggs removed surgically for the benefit of you, the ‘intended parent’, to enable you to have a baby using a younger egg. This can also be referred to as ‘third-party’ fertility.
Why should I use a donor egg?
No one grows up with the idea that they may need to use a donor egg to have a baby. You may be a woman who has left child-bearing to your later years, only to have a diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve. We have clients who have a PCOS diagnosis at a very young age, those who underwent fertility-limiting cancer treatment and clients who have genetic disorders that they simply do not want to pass on to their offspring. Or perhaps you are a single male or gay couple who need a donor egg to complete your family using surrogacy.
First, we invite you to have a free consultation. We’ll discuss your fertility journey so far and where you are emotionally in the process. We talk about your desired criteria for an egg donor. There is no charge for this initial consultation and no obligation to engage our services.
Once you decide to use Donor Concierge to find an egg donor, you’ll fill in our online Intended Parent Intake, upload pictures and make a secure payment. We operate on a first-come, first-served basis and generally book about a week in advance.
2. The Egg Donor Search Process
At Donor Concierge, we know that making the decision to use an egg donor is never easy. You may have already been through multiple IVF cycles, spent tens of thousands of dollars and been on an emotional roller coaster of failed treatment, with no success. With so many egg donor agencies out there, how do you sift through the thousands of profiles and choose an egg donor? That’s where we come in.
You’ll have another detailed talk with your assigned case manager to go over your criteria, and then we get to work. The search takes approximately 2 weeks to complete and during this time, we ask that you work interactively with our case manager to ensure that you are on the same track. We’ll be sending you profiles of donors every day or two. We urge you to look at those profiles within 24 hours. Donors are matched very quickly and it’s essential that you give us your feedback as the search progresses.
While your case manager is searching, she can also:
Help you understand which donors may be more suitable to you
Follow up with the agencies about your favorite candidates*
Confirm the donor’s availability and willingness to travel
Help you to put the donor on hold while you make your final decision
Arrange for the donor to be sent for some initial testing/screening locally before the couple has to commit fully (this will depend on the agency but most are cooperative)
Arrange for medical records to be sent to the clinic*
Maintain your privacy and release your name only when you give us permission
*Premium and Platinum search packages only
3. Reserving Your Egg Donor
Once we’ve helped you choose your egg donor, we introduce you to the agency. They will coordinate with your clinic to have the donor screened according to its donor egg recipient protocol. A legal agreement with the donor will be completed prior to beginning the medication cycle.
We provide on-going support and act as a resource even after the match to make sure our clients know where to get the support they need, be that legal, psychological, emotional or just plain practical.
4. The Egg Donor Cycle
First, your donor’s menstrual cycle needs to be synchronized with yours using hormones including birth control pills and Lupron injections.
Next, the egg donor will have hormone injections to stimulate her ovaries to grow multiple eggs. She will be monitored throughout this 10-12 day period.
Your doctor will determine when the egg donor is at the optimum point in the stimulation phase, and she will be given an injection of a hormone called HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This last injection is administered intramuscularly, 36 hours prior to retrieval. HCG signals the eggs to mature so that they may be retrieved.
The day of the egg retrieval, your donor will be given a twilight sedation and the mature eggs will be extracted vaginally with an ultrasound-guided needle, and placed in a petri dish.
Your egg donor will rest for 45 – 90 minutes after the retrieval. She will need to be driven home after the procedure and have someone stay with her for the next 24 – 48 hours to monitor her recovery. If she has travelled by plane, your clinic will have guidelines as to when it is safe for her to fly back home.
Your sperm will be introduced into the dish within a few hours and either natural fertilization will occur or your RE may suggest ICSI (where sperm is injected directly into the eggs) to ensure that fertilization takes place.
Your RE will usually make sure that your cycle is about a week ahead of your egg donor. You will be in a holding pattern (up to two weeks) awaiting the embryo transfer. This can be a stressful time, but one of great hope—you’re on your way to having a family!
The embryos are allowed to grow and develop for five days. On day five, one or two embryos (now called blastocysts) will be graded for quality and transferred into your uterus to grow.
Egg Donation FAQ
How much does using an egg donor cost?
Typically, using an egg donor costs between $30,000 and $40,000. Much is dependent on where you find your egg donor (clinic vs agency), her requested compensation and the costs of stimulation medicines for each woman involved.
What are the donor egg success rates?
Live birth rates are about the same among younger and older women using donor eggs. Women in their late 20s through mid 40s average about a 55% birth rate using fresh (not frozen) embryos created through egg donation. The chances of an egg donor recipient of advanced age conceiving through donor eggs is 5-10 times greater than if she were using her own eggs.
When choosing a clinic, make sure you compare donor egg success rates. Find a clinic that does a lot of third party cycles.
What are the risks of using an egg donor?
For the recipient of donor eggs, there is a higher likelihood of a multiple pregnancy. The egg donor herself is at risk of ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS) after the retrieval.
Will the offspring be legally mine even though I don’t share any genetics?
The simple answer is, yes! Even if you are using an egg donor, if you give birth to your baby, you are the legal parent. If you are using a surrogate, that makes things a little more complicated, depending on your marital status and the state in which you live. Our best advice is to consult with an attorney who specializes in third-party reproduction matters.