Women who are unable to produce eggs of their own, carry a genetic disorder or have poor egg quality are encouraged to explore the option of the egg (oocyte) donation program at Georgia Reproductive Specialists. To be considered as a recipient for donor eggs, you must have a normal uterus and be 50 years of age or younger.
Patients of advanced reproductive age (40 years or older) are the most common recipients of donor eggs and are able to overcome the age barrier with the use of a donated egg. Patients undergoing in vitro fertilization with a donated egg often have high success rates because the egg being used is from a young, healthy donor.
There are two categories of egg donors – anonymous and known. Anonymous donors are not permitted to meet you, the recipient, and cannot know whether or not a pregnancy occurred from the your cycle. Known donors are often related to the recipient, most often a sister, or are a compassionate friend of the couple. In known donor situations, it is suggested that all parties involved sign a legal contract outlining details of the egg donation.
This choice ensures that you receive all the eggs from your chosen donor. This maximizes your likelihood of success and increases your chance of achieving subsequent pregnancies using frozen embryos which are most likely to result from this option.
This option involves sharing eggs from your donor with other parents. The shared egg donor cycle results in your receiving between six and ten of the eggs which she produces. If the donor produces fewer than 12 mature eggs you will receive all the eggs. If 12 or more mature eggs are available, then you will receive half the eggs, and the other half will be frozen for use by other recipient couples. This option reduces donor-related costs but is less likely to result in “extra” embryos for future use.
Sometimes we freeze or cryopreserve eggs which have been previously harvested at Georgia Reproductive Specialists, and then store them for future use. These eggs are available for use any time and do not require the synchronization that is always necessary when a donor and a carrier are going through the process in parallel.
Occasionally, when some people are finished with their family building and do not wish to discard their “extra” embryos, they choose to donate their extra embryos to GRS to give to others.
The pros and cons of each of these options will be explored once you begin your journey with us. Your GRS physician, Egg Donor Nurse Coordinator and GRS Financial Coordinator will help you to decide which option best meets your needs and goals.
Screening for Recipients
During your initial consultation at Georgia Reproductive Specialists, all aspects of the egg donation program will be discussed with you and your husband. If you are not a current patient at GRS, your medical records will need to be sent to the office for a complete review to determine whether or not you are a candidate for donor eggs.
The decision to conceive a child through the use of a donated egg can be very difficult for a couple. Therefore, a GRS physician will refer you and your husband to a psychologist for counseling and emotional support. It is important to discuss issues related to non-biologic parenting, past fertility problems, parenting at an older age and positive and negative aspects of disclosure to potential offspring.
If you are 43 years of age or older, a physical exam must be performed by an internist to rule out any potential risks to pregnancy, including diabetes and heart disease. If you do not currently have an internist, your GRS physician will refer you to one.
Both you and your husband must have bloodwork done to screen for diseases and conditions that can affect your pregnancy including Human Immunodeficiency Virus, hepatitis C, hepatitis B surface antigen, RPR (sexually transmitted disease), blood type RH and rubella immunity. Your husband must also provide a semen sample approximately four weeks prior to the transfer cycle for semen analysis, strict morphology and sperm survival testing.
On the day of the donor’s egg retrieval, your husband will provide a semen sample that will be prepared in the GRS embryology laboratory. The sperm will then be placed in a dish with the donated egg(s) and incubated. After a day or two, you will receive information regarding the success of the procedure. If fertilization has occurred, a pre-embryo replacement will be scheduled one or two days later and the fertilized eggs will be transferred into your uterus. Approximately two weeks later you will return to the office for a pregnancy test. Upon a positive pregnancy test result, we will adjust medications for the best chance of sustaining the early pregnancy.
The patient who will receive the donor egg in order to become pregnant is referred to as the “recipient.” Before treatment begins, the recipient undergoes preliminary testing to determine if egg donation is the right choice for them. This assessment phase includes blood tests, hormonal screening, infectious disease and genetic testing, cervical cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia, and a pap smear. In addition, imaging studies will assess the physical integrity and structure of the uterus; a mammogram and echocardiogram may also be required.The male partner or sperm donor will also be screened through semen analysis, blood testing, and infectious disease and genetic screening.
Donors who are healthy young women in the New York area are recruited through various avenues such as advertisements and word of mouth and are screened in a comprehensive, multi-step process that includes examination of medical, genetic, ancestral, social, educational and reproductive histories. Recruited donors also consult with a physician and undergo a psychosocial evaluation. Donors do not “sell” their eggs; they are young women who are donating their eggs anonymously and receive compensation for the time, risk and effort invested in donating.
Donors are selected from CWRC’s donor registry in accordance with a recipient’s profile criteria and are approved by the donor committee. This committee is chaired by the Egg Donor Program Director Dr. Melvin Thornton and includes physicians, nursing staff, a psychiatrist, and social workers. Accepted donors undergo testing as required by the New York State Department of Health. These tests include blood screening for infectious diseases, blood type, genetic screening, and cervical cultures. Approved potential donors are presented to recipients during a scheduled conference call and the physician provides an anonymous, in-depth description of the donor, including physical attributes, family and health history, education, and personality. After the presentation, the recipient has two business days to accept or decline the proposed donor.
The egg Donation cycle uses oocytes (eggs) provided by a donor for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and transfer of embryos to the recipient. The menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient must first be synchronized. Egg donors undergo controlled ovarian stimulation using hormonal medications, while the recipient receives hormone replacement in preparation for transfer. The donor’s response to stimulation is monitored carefully using ultrasound examinations and blood tests. At the appropriate time, the eggs are retrieved from the donor and combined with the sperm (from the male partner or donor) in a laboratory setting to develop embryos. Embryo transfer to the recipient occurs approximately five days after egg retrieval. This is a simple procedure that does not require anesthesia.