This page is intended for egg recipients
California IVF Donor Egg Program
Donor egg treatments involve the stimulation and collection of eggs from an egg donor. The eggs are fertilized with the partner’s sperm. After embryos are grown in the embryology lab, an embryo transfer procedure takes place. 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 maternal bond 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 that is often much less expensive than repeated tries with treatments that are not successful. There are many considerations and concerns that arise when patients evaluate treatments with donor eggs. Once a woman or a couple 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 health history concerns such as inherited disorders and medical problems that could cause a problem with a pregnancy or cause problems to the donor during the donation process. Mental health professionals are also used in the screening process. When the donors come from our program, our staff 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 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 they grow up. 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 without commitments or cost. 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 usually 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 wish to 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 before we can offer any diagnostic testing or treatment. A medical and genetic history form needs to be completed by you and your partner. A consultation and medical evaluation are completed are reviewed by our physicians before we can begin the matching process. Our egg donor coordinators can assist patients in matching with an anonymous donor in our program though the final choice will be up to the patients.
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 history or previous donations in the program may often influence the selection of a donor. 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, typically birth control pills. 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. In some cases, donors will use medications called GnRH antagonists (Cetrotide or Ganirelix). 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. Recipients are scheduled to have a “lining check” ultrasound where we confirm the endometrium is ready while we wait for the final development of the donor’s follicles. When the follicles in the donor’s 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 or vaginal progesterone inserts. 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.
Over the course of the next several days, patients are call with updates such as the total number of eggs collected, number of eggs fertilized, and updates on the development of the embryos. The embryo transfer will usually occur 5 days after the egg 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 for better visualization of the uterus. Transfers are done under ultrasound guidance and you will be able to watch the procedure. The discomfort is similar to a PAP smear and in most cases is completely painless. 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. This test is known as a quantitative HCG (QHCG) or “Quant”. This level is expected to roughly double every 48 hours. The progesterone injections usually prevent a period even if you are not pregnant. It is important that patients do not stop their medications until instructed. 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 pregnancy hormone levels 2 to 3 days later. You will continue the supplemental estrace and progesterone for another 9 weeks (until 12 weeks gestation when the placenta will be supporting the pregnancy).
There are several reasons why an anonymous donation cycle may be cancelled. The most common reasons are poor stimulation of the donor’s 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, though the overall chance of success remains high in most cases.
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. California IVF Fertility Center has experience working with patients from other states and other countries where donor programs may not be available or have considerably higher cost. We are here to help!