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Egg Donation/ Donor Egg Program

Is Egg Donation right for you? Dr. Norbert Gleicher from the Center for Human Reproduction in New York, NY explains the egg donation (or oocyte donation) process and provides valuable insight into when egg donation is appropriate and the criteria CHR uses for determining egg donor candidates.

Egg donation should always be a last resort. And there is a good reason for that; most of all we don’t want patients later to have regrets. and in practical terms that means, as I always explain to patients, they have to be both with their heads and with their hearts ready for egg donation. And if they are, by the time they will have delivered their child, they will in most if not all cases forgotten that it was a donated egg. In principal the most important step is the recognition that they have reached the end of the road. And once that point is reached sometimes patients who previously never thought 1about egg donation, face the reality that this is their only option and change their mind. But it is obviously a very difficult decision especially for the female. Giving up the genetic maternity, at usually a stage where they have a made a major investment into long-term treatment. We probably offer the largest and most ethnically diverse egg donor pool anywhere in the world, and that creates a unique opportunity. Patients do not always choose donors who look like they look. It is not uncommon for women who are relatively short to want a taller donor or for women who are a little on the heavy side to want a skinny donor. But we can give them that kind of option and that is very unique. So we select our donors very very carefully, obviously by medical criteria first and foremost but secondly also, you pretty much have to have some college education in order to make it into our donor pool. You have to look well because most recipient couples are very particular about the looks of the donors and we allow them to see photographs and sometimes even show videos of our donor candidates. We get a very large number of donor applicants through our website, unsolicited. And that allows us to be very discriminatory in how we select our donors and in fact, at the end, only three to four percent of those who apply to our center will end up being in our egg donor pool. Once a young woman is in our donor pool our recipients do not have to worry about their medical qualifications. They would not be in our donor pool if they were not medically, genetically, etcetera fully vetted. Starts out obviously with the match between the donor and the recipient. It is of crucial importance to us that recipients are very comfortable with the donor they select and will not have second thoughts afterwards. Once the donor selection process is completed and we have a tentative match, according to FDA rules the donor’s final testing round has to take place. So, basically once the matching process between the recipient and donor has taken place, within less than 30 days usually we have the eggs of the donor, they are fertilized by the partner’s sperm and the resulting embryos have been placed into the recipient. Egg donation is an almost revolutionary treatment in many ways because it allows almost normal fertility to women who otherwise have no chance of motherhood. So, think about it a 46, 47, 50 year old woman who has good reasons for becoming a mother at such an advanced age, really through egg donation overnight goes from having no chance, zero chance of being a mom to having the chance of a 20 year old if her donor eggs come from a 20 year old. Egg donation is changing constantly and in many ways, for both medical reasons and unfortunately other reasons by that I mean political, legal etc, probably the most exciting though not yet ready for prime time development is our improving ability to freeze eggs. Some of our European colleagues particularly in Spain have started actually introducing already the concept of frozen egg banks. We are really astonished by how quickly our egg donations are increasing for long distance patients. New York is really unique in its multi ethnic donor pool. In Europe the country that has become the center of egg donation is Spain. But obviously most donors there are Spanish. In many ways it is not surprising that this is such a rapidly growing component of our center’s activity. The other one is of course that the regulations of egg donation in the US are so tight that I think many patients trust the egg donation process here more than in many other countries.