Donor Oocytes (eggs)
This page is intended for egg recipients
Our donor egg program has maintained excellent success rates since the program was started. This allows donor egg recipients to have an opportunity to carry a pregnancy and experience the joys and bonds of a pregnancy. Often times patients view donor eggs as a last resort option. It is very important to fully understand the process before making a final decision, as the donor egg process can result in a healthy baby and often much less expensive than repeated tries with treatments that are not successful. There are many considerations and concerns that arise when patients as themselves when is it time to move to donor eggs. Once couples decide to use donor eggs, their chances of pregnancy will usually be higher than any other form of treatment. This provides hope for many people that they will be able to experience the joy of adding a baby to their family.
Considerations When Using Egg Donors
We commonly hear concerns about the background and health of the egg donors. Donors are screened for medical problems such as inherited disorders, medical problems that could be a problem with a pregnancy or to the donor during the donation process. Mental health professionals are also used in the screening process. When the donors come from our program, we have the opportunity to meet the donors and establish a relationship with them, even though the donor will remain anonymous to the recipient couple. We use all of these factors together to select only the best candidates to represent our practice and provide our patients with the best possible chances of pregnancy.
Patients will sometimes comment that they would rather adopt since the baby "would not be mine anyway". While adoption is a wonderful option to consider, the process is not always easy, and many patients may find the barriers too difficult to overcome. When donors provide their eggs, they give up their rights to the eggs. These eggs can not become a baby without the recipient. The recipient will provide life to the embryos and her role as the baby's mother is not questioned by anyone. In the eyes of a child born to a donor egg recipient, their mother is the person that gave birth to them and provided for them as a baby. The bond between a mother and her babies is one of the most powerful bonds possible between two people. We have years of experience working with women and their partners making the transition to using donor eggs and have not yet encountered a woman that regretted her decision to use donated eggs.
Our physicians are open to exploring the option of using donor eggs and donor embryos, but will not "push" someone into a treatment using egg donors or donated embryos. You need to know the facts and all of your options. Our doctors will not shy away from discussing the topic when appropriate, but the final decision will always rest with the patient. Our program is open to patients who want to learn more about our programs. Patients are free to investigate the donor program, review donor profiles, and ask any questions without having to feel obligated to make a decision. A recipient must be ready to use donor eggs before we proceed with the matching process. We feel confident that our donor egg program can work for most patients that have failed IVF, have advanced maternal age, recurrent pregnancy losses due to problems with the eggs, and ovarian failure. Having children and sharing in the joy of raising a family is ultimately the goal of patients seeking help. Of course, everyone woman wants to use her own eggs, but sometimes that is not possible. Genetics do not make families, family bonds make families.
Types of Donation:
There are three general types of donors and donations. Known or directed donors, anonymous donors, and embryo donation. Anonymous egg donation can also offer another option called shared egg donation. In the shared egg donation process, the eggs from an anonymous egg donor are shared between two recipients. This saves on the cost of the program and usually makes the cost of donor eggs similar to the cost of IVF and medications for a woman in her late thirties and older. The clinic helps to coordinate all donor procedures and in the setting of a shared donor cycle, we will arrange the matching of the shared process, keeping identities anonymous and confidential.
The recipient’s and donor's identity is protected during an anonymous donation. Contact information will not be shared. Egg donors do not know any information about their recipients and have no desire to establish relationships with recipient couples or the subsequent babies. They view themselves as donating eggs and giving the recipient the opportunity to have children of their own. Of course in a directed, or known donor, the recipient is bringing in the donor and would know the individual. We help with the screening process and make certain the donor is eligible to donate through health and psychiatric evaluation.
If you should use a known donor, she must meet the same screening criteria as our anonymous donors. All donors who choose to donate through the California IVF Donor Egg Program are thoroughly screened for infectious diseases and meet all state and federal regulations. Donors are screened for health risks including inherited disorders, mental illness, and other traits that would be undesirable to most parents. It is not possible to avoid all health risks and birth defects, but this is true for any pregnancy. Recipients will receive a copy of this information before making their final decision on using a donor.
Patients need to become established with our practice. A medical and genetic history form needs to be completed by you and your partner. This information will need to be returned to us before we can begin the matching process. In this form you are asked to provide physical characteristics (height, weight, hair and eye color, and blood type) and genetic/medical history of both partners. Photographs will be used to aid in the matching process. Donors are matched with these characteristics as closely as possible. We also require that both partners have screening lab work obtained prior to beginning a cycle. The evaluation will also include an assessment of the uterine lining as well as other general health information. If your partner's sperm is being used, a semen analysis will also need to be performed. [More information on Evaluations]
We will discuss our screening and matching procedures with you and make an attempt to incorporate any special requests that you may have in the selection of your donor. Recipients will be able to review complete medical histories and donor questionnaires along with photographs of the donor. Our donor coordinator helps in the selection process and frequently can help make a match due to familiarity with the donors in the program. The donor's pregnancy may often influence the selection of a donor as well. The recipient makes the final decision regarding her egg donor and does not have to accept a donor that is not a good match. While we maintain a large pool of egg donors available for IVF treatment, we need to turn to egg donor agencies in some cases. Due to costs and logistics, we always encourage patients to view our donor profiles first. If necessary, we can enlist the help of outside agencies to find donors with specific characteristics that may be difficult to find. This is more common with certain ethnic backgrounds that may not be readily available on our donor pool. Gail Sexton Anderson Ed.M with Donorconcierge.com can help find donors that may not be readily available in our donor pool. Working with agencies may add additional fees to the cost of the treatments, but this must be balanced with the importance of finding an acceptable match with an egg donor.
Once the matching process is completed, the treatment phase will begin. Treatments usually take place over 4-6 weeks once the donor and recipient have been synchronized using medications. We will need to suppress your ovarian function (if applicable) by having you start a medication called lupron. Lupron is a daily subcutaneous injection given in the morning that will generally be started 4-7 days before your next expected menses. Before beginning lupron you will need to have a blood pregnancy test and an ultrasound to evaluate your uterus and ovaries.
At this time we will also be starting the donor on lupron to suppress her ovaries. Once you have both had menses, we can begin to coordinate your cycles. You will start estrogen patches and the donor will begin the stimulation of her ovaries with gonadotropins. When the follicles on her ovaries have reached a mature size (generally 10 -15 days) we will notify you by phone that we are ready for the next step. At the time of this call we will give you instructions to begin your intramuscular progesterone injections. On this day you will stop the lupron injections. We will also schedule sperm collection for the day of egg retrieval. This will generally be two days after this phone call and will be in the morning. We have a private room within the clinic area with visual aids. Very rarely we will need to collect a second specimen if there are problems with the first specimen.
The next day (the day after egg retrieval and sperm collection) we will call you with the results of the retrieval (how many eggs retrieved) and the results of fertilization (how many embryos resulted). Embryo transfer will usually occur 5 days after retrieval.
On the day of embryo transfer, we will discuss with you the number of embryos that will be transferred - we usually advise couples not to transfer more than 2 embryos. The transfer is performed in a room near our laboratory area and requires a partially-full to full bladder. Transfers are done under ultrasound guidance and you will be able to watch the procedure. The discomfort is similar to a PAP smear. The transfer is usually fairly quick and you can return home to rest.
8-10 days after the embryo transfer we will perform a serum (blood) pregnancy test. The progesterone injections usually prevent a period even if you are not pregnant. If the pregnancy test is negative you will discontinue all medications and will probably begin a period within the next week. If the pregnancy test is positive we will recheck the estrogen and progesterone levels. You will continue the supplemental estrace and progesterone for another 6 weeks (until 10 weeks gestation when the placenta will be supporting the pregnancy).
There are several reasons why a cycle of anonymous oocyte donation may be cancelled. The most common reasons are poor stimulation of the donors ovaries, excessive stimulation of the donors ovaries, the presence of ovarian cysts prior to beginning a cycle, or a change of heart for either the donor or recipient (this is a rare occurrence). There is no guarantee as to the number of oocytes that will be retrieved, the number that may fertilize, the quality of the recovered oocytes, or that a pregnancy will result. There is also no guarantee that a positive pregnancy test will lead to a live birth.
Donors are compensated for their time and efforts and not based on their characteristics or the outcome of treatments. See our cost summary for an estimate of charges that are incurred during an average cycle. You must understand that these are only estimates. Additional charges for medications, laboratory screening, or other services may be incurred. These charges are also subject to change without prior notice. You will be responsible for the costs of treatments incurred by the donor. Our donor egg program has been able to maintain very affordable prices that are usually comparable to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and medications using a woman's own eggs. We are very open about our pricing and would be happy to provide our costs in writing.
Donated Embryos - Embryo Adoption
Some women considering donor eggs, may also need donor sperm. It is very reasonable to consider donated embryos. With donor embryos, recipients receive embryos that are left over from previous treatments or embryos that were made from donor sperm and donor eggs. This can offer a high chance of pregnancy and very attractive pricing. The California Conceptions Donated Embryo program offers high chances of having a pregnancy using donor embryos. Because donor sperm and eggs are used, this is often referred to as embryo adoption, though this term is not accurate.
Get to Know Us
With our excellent success rates using donor eggs we are able to offer most patients a very high cumulative pregnancy rate. If you are considering our clinic or considering switching infertility clinics, please contact us for a free tour. We are happy to introduce you to our staff and cover any questions you may have about our programs.