Oocyte (Egg) Donation

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Once it is established that a couple’s infertility is due to the female’s lack of eggs there are three options to choose from. The couple can both accept this and look for other sources of happiness. They can apply to the appropriate initiations to start the adoption process. The third option for couples is to use a donor egg.

Oocyte donation differs from the other options because the baby that is born carries half of the genetic make up of the family. Also the parents experience the psychosocial changes resulting from sharing the pregnancy and delivery. The source of the donor egg is usually at an age where chances of chromosomal anomalies are very low. However the age of the donor does not protect the mother from complications during her pregnancy. The age of the woman carrying the baby and her overall health affects how the pregnancy will progress.

The first baby born as a result of oocyte donation was done three years after the first IVF baby was born. Initially oocyte donation was intended for women who experience premature menopause; gradually the procedure became a solution for older women. Even if ovaries stop egg production, the uterus retains it’s capability of carrying a baby to term. The uterus can be reprogrammed with oral or inject able drugs to prepare the organ for implantation and pregnancy. Chances of pregnancy are similar to a younger woman using her own eggs. Sometimes pregnancy rates can even be higher for these women.

Oocyte donation provides women the chance of bearing their own children. The egg donor and recipient must be properly informed and their family medical history must be thoroughly evaluated. The legal and moral aspects of the donation process should be discussed with the couples who are considering this procedure. There are 4 main reasons people choose oocyte donation as a means of having a baby:

  • Premature menopause or other factors causing cessation of egg production, such as hereditary diseases, endometriosis, surgery done on the ovaries resulting in significant loss of ovarian tissue.
  • Several failed attempts at IVF or recurrent miscarriage caused by poor egg quality or poor embryo development.
  • Infertile couples where the woman is not permitted to use drugs necessary to induce oocyte production.
  • Older women who have entered menopause. Arguments against oocyte donation usually focus on these types of patients. A 65 year old Romanian woman is oldest woman recorded to have a baby through this method.

Donors will be selected according the criteria listed below and will be strictly confidential. Before a woman is accepted in the donor oocyte program, she will be examined by the clinic gynecologist, a genetic and, if necessary, a thorough psychological evaluation will be done on the prospective donor. The recipient will be privy to the donor’s age, physical health and education status. Any information revealing the donor’s identity will be confidential under a code name which only the hospital administrators can access. Five copies are made of each patient’s file and in case of fire; two of these copies are stored in another building.

Women donate eggs in return for monetary payment. In spite of this, research indicates that women who choose to donate to fulfill a need to help other people. Egg donors also donate blood frequently and usually have an infertile relative.