Affordable Egg Donation
A video about the benefits, risks, and success rates associated with affordable egg donation. Dr. Norbert Gleicher, the founder of the Center for Human Reproduction and an internationally recognized fertility specialist, answers your questions in a comprehensive overview of our low-cost donor egg program called “EcoDEP.” What are the benefits of a frozen egg donor program over a fresh donor egg program? What are the pregnancy rates from frozen donor eggs?
Our Eco Donor Program is a secondary, a new egg donation program at CHR, which was introduced approximately a year ago with the idea of making egg donation more widely available Egg donation of course is very expensive and therefore a lot of patients who need egg donation cannot afford it. The idea behind the Eco Donor Egg Program is to create an opportunity 0:54 for patients to go through egg donation, have a high pregnancy chance at roughly half the cost of a standard donor egg program here at CHR, but there are obvious differences. In our Eco Egg Donor Program patients get frozen eggs, while in our standard program eggs are retrieved fresh from donors. Plus in a standard program the recipient gets all the eggs that come from one cycle from a donor. While here the recipient gets five frozen eggs that are already available, they are already frozen. It also means less choice because in our fresh donor egg program we probably have the largest pool of donors, of carefully selected egg donors anywhere in the country, if not in the world. While here we obviously have a small selected pool of donors whose eggs we have pre-frozen. So, like anything in life there is a balance, but since those eggs come from young, carefully selected donors, five frozen eggs should still provide an excellent pregnancy chance. It is obviously cumulatively involving all the eggs, smaller than the chance from a standard program because in such a case the recipient gets a much larger number of eggs. Otherwise, one more important point to make, and that is that since the Eco Donor Egg Program involves frozen eggs, we consider it an experimental procedure. There are some colleagues who think otherwise, but we consider the use of frozen eggs still as experimental and therefore patients who go through this program at CHR will have to sign an experimental consent. I think there are a number of reasons why patients might prefer an Eco Donor Program over the standard program but I think the principle reason is cost. It is obviously running at roughly half the cost of a standard program. Some patients also simply do not want to have excessive egg numbers. Some people for ethical, religious, or other reasons do not want the responsibility of having frozen eggs or having frozen embryos sitting at the center. So you know there are various reasons, but very clearly the dominant reason is that it is a less costly approach towards egg donation and therefore offers patients who otherwise could not afford egg donation a very good pregnancy chance. Since in the Eco Donor Egg Program we use frozen eggs, the number of pregnancies is still very small. In other words they have not reached an experience level where we can give valid statistical data and that is one of the reasons why we consider Eco IVF still an experimental program. Indeed worldwide while the number of pregnancies, or the use of frozen eggs in general has greatly increased over the last few years, we still do not have the statistical competence of accurately predicting pregnancy chances as we have in a standard IVF program where we use fresh embryos rather than frozen eggs and that’s all we can say at this point. We can tell you that our impression, based on very small numbers, is that pregnancy rates are quite similar to those of fresh eggs, but it is too early to go beyond that. CHR considers everything that involves frozen eggs as experimental, so we do not only consider our Eco Donor Egg Program as experimental, we simply consider egg freezing as an experimental procedure and therefore Eco Donor IVF is experimental. The reason why we feel like that, and many of our colleagues feel the same way, is because the worldwide available data, even though increasing very rapidly, is not yet at a point where we have the ability to predict outcomes, as well with frozen eggs as well with fresh. We have been working with fresh eggs for over 30 years, we have been working with frozen embryos for practically over 30 years and are therefore very familiar with outcomes and can quote statistics but we do not have the experience yet to do the same thing for frozen eggs. Now one very important additional point, specifically referring here to the Center for Human Reproduction that we here at the center do not like to work with other center’s outcome data. In other words, we want to be able to quote what our numbers are and our Eco Donor Egg program is barely a year old, the number of patients going through it is very small, so we simply do not yet have the statistical power to make valid statements. Even if there was enough data from other centers we would still consider it experimentally here because we do not have our own data.