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Chosen with Care: How CHR’s Donor Egg Pool Compares to Egg Donor Agencies

Have you ever wondered about the difference between the egg donors available in CHR’s donor pool and egg donors available at other egg donor agencies? In this video, we discuss CHR’s established track record in egg donation and our approach to our donor pool.

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Hi, I am Norbert Gleicher, MD and I’m the Medical Director of CHR and it’s Chief Scientist. We received a lot of questions about a whole lot of different topics and one issue that especially in the recent month has come up repeatedly is the question of whether egg donor selection should remain within the walls of infertility centers or can be farmed out, or should be farmed out, to its agencies and more recently even to its frozen sperm banks.

How egg donation is practiced in this country and elsewhere has dramatically changed over the last few years. Until roughly 10 years ago, basically every IVF Center that provided the comprehensive fertility service had its own donor program– meaning the IVF center selected its own donors and kept those donors on reserve in what we call a donor pool. And patients were able to select donors from amongst those donors in those pools.

Then, approximately 10 years ago, a first dramatic shift took place and that shift was caused by the fact that maintaining a donor pool is quite expensive for IVF centers. The screening process is expensive because it is not only times consuming, but you end up testing a lot of candidates in order to only select a few. And even from amongst those few that are selected and are allowed into the donor pool, only a few are selected by patients. And so the loss rate, in comparison to the investment, is obviously quite high. And so starting roughly a decade ago, many, if not most, IVF centers came to the conclusion that it wasn’t cost effective for them to maintain their own donor egg programs and they started farming it out to donor agencies which had recognized that if they could kind of become the agency for a whole bunch of IVF centers (in other words work the whole process on a larger scale), then there was potential to earn some profits from the process.

And so about ten years ago, we entered the period where suddenly donor egg agencies became very popular and most IVF centers started using those donor egg agencies at additional cost for their patients because those donor agencies obviously don’t work for free. And what really concerned us most here at CHR, it also had possibly some impact on donor selection because we always felt here at CHR, that how we select our donors is of crucial importance. And it is for us at least, hard to believe that many of those donor agencies really go through as detailed this selection process as we do for our still existing donor pool. Because we here at CHR, we are amongst those very few IVF centers in the country who still maintain their own donor pool up to the state.

Now, roughly five years ago, a secondary revolution (if I may call it that way) started. And this secondary revolution was based on the fact that our abilities in egg freezing have greatly improved over the last ten years or so and as a consequence, some smart colleagues and other business interests decided it was time to do with eggs what with sperm has been practiced for our 30-plus years. And that is to establish frozen banks.

We have had frozen sperm banks for over thirty years. We now have for almost half a decade quite a number and an ever-increasing number of frozen egg banks. And in those frozen egg banks, once again, the donor selection process is obviously farmed out. And once again, we here at CHR, therefore, are very concerned about how well and how carefully egg donors are selected for those sperm banks. This does not mean that a reputable sperm bank, like reputable egg banks, select their donors very very carefully.

But here at CHR , we feel so strongly about the importance of selecting egg donors with extreme care that while we are willing to farm out our sperm donor selection, we are not willing to farm out our egg donor selection and therefore are maintaining our donor pool and indeed trying to grow it. In parallel, however, we have established our own frozen egg donor pool with the same donors who we use in our fresh donor pool. And so everybody who is interested in donor eggs at CHR has the opportunity to choose from the same donor pool either fresh or frozen eggs.

Let me conclude by repeating my point that some egg banks we are sure are excellent and are offering excellent frozen eggs. And indeed, some of our patients choose some of those banks to use frozen eggs at our Center and we are welcoming that opportunity, but overall, here at CHR, we feel that the selection of egg donors is so important that we simply do not want to entrust it to anybody else. Thank you very much.