Giving the Gift of Life
For a relatively small percentage of infertile couples, the only option available for achieving a successful pregnancy is through the use of an egg donor. Fertility specialist Dr. Louis R. Manara offers a comprehensive egg donation program at his New Jersey practice. Egg donation gives hope to patients who have exhausted other methods of infertility treatment. If you are interested in learning more about egg donation and the egg donor program at the Center For Reproductive Medicine and Fertility, please contact our Voorhess, New Jersey practice today.
What is Egg Donation
Egg donation gives women who are unable to use their own eggs a chance to become the biological mother of a child. In this process the embryo is transferred to the uterus of the intended mother, attaches to the uterine wall, and is nurtured throughout pregnancy by the biological mother. Even though a woman may be unable to produce healthy eggs of her own, she gives birth to a child whom she has carried and nurtured, and who was conceived with her husband’s sperm. In most situations, the egg is donated by an anonymous donor although in certain situations the egg may be donated by a family member or friend.
The Egg Donation Process
Egg donation is an intricate process that requires commitment from both the egg donor and the potential biological parents. At Dr. Manara’s New Jersey practice, our egg donation process is thorough, ensuring the health and safety of all patients. First, the potential egg donor is screened with a careful medical history, physical examination, psychological evaluation, and laboratory testing. Once the donor has been approved, the donor and intended parents enter into contractual agreements defining and protecting the rights and responsibilities of all parties.
While the egg donor goes through the preparation, stimulation, and egg retrieval process at our New Jersey practice, the intended mother is treated to have her cycle synchronized to the cycle of the egg donor through the use of appropriate hormones.
This process allows the lining of the uterus to be properly thickened so that the embryos will have the best opportunity to implant.
Once the donor has received the stimulating medications for about two weeks, the eggs are retrieved through a relatively simple procedure in which the physician uses vaginal ultrasound guidance to remove the eggs which have achieved maturity. This procedure takes about 15 minutes and does require some sedation or local anesthesia. Next, the eggs that have been successfully retrieved are incubated in the laboratory with the sperm from the partner of the intended mother. The embryos that develop are maintained in the laboratory incubators for 3-5 days before they are transferred to the intended mother. During this time, the environment surrounding the embryos is carefully monitored and periodically adjusted by the embryologist. Finally, one or two of the developing embryos are transferred to the prepared uterus of the intended mother. Nine to eleven days later, a sensitive blood pregnancy test is done to determine if the treatment was successful.
Why Patients Choose Egg Donation
In some cases, even the most advanced fertility treatments and medications are not enough to help a couple conceive on their own. Dr. Manara offers egg donation for patients throughout New Jersey whose egg quality has been deemed the cause of repeated pregnancy failures. Among women who consider egg donation are:
- Women who have undergone several unsuccessful cycles of in vitro fertilization
- Women who have not responded to fertility medication
- Women who are over the age of 40 and unable to conceive using IVF
- Women who have had their ovaries surgically removed or who have damage to their ovaries due to chemotherapy
- Women who suffer from genetic disorders
The Cost of Egg Donation
Egg donation involves several different stages, each of which varies based on the individual patient. Below is an estimation of the cost of egg donation for patients who visit the Center For Reproductive Medicine and Fertility.
- Screening tests for the intended mother, father, and egg donor: $1000-$2000
- Compensation to egg donor agency which matches donor with recipient and coordinates treatment, screening, and contracts: $2,000-$5,000
- Fees to the IVF clinic for monitoring, removal of eggs, culturing of the embryos in the laboratory and transfer of the embryos to the uterus of the intended mother: $8,000-$10,000
- Compensation to egg donor: $6000-$8000
- Additional attorney fees(if applicable): $1,000-$2000
Egg Donation Success Rates
Egg donation became a clinical treatment reality in the mid 1980’s and it is fair to say that most scientists working in the field of reproductive medicine could not have imagined the high rate of success that would be achieved by substitution of an egg from a carefully selected donor. Clinical experience and research through the years has provided clarification of the critically important aspects of egg donation success such as synchronization of donor and intended mother’s menstrual cycles, and donor selection. Today the most successful of all the assisted reproductive technologies is egg donation, which results in clinical pregnancy rates of 60-80% per cycle in most well-run programs. Achieving this level of success requires careful attention to a number of important details including donor selection, evaluation of the intended mother’s uterine cavity and correction of any abnormalities, performance of a mock embryo transfer to assure a quick and easy embryo transfer, proper synchronization of the egg donor and intended mother’s cycles, a very well-run contemporary in-vitro fertilization laboratory with experience and success in the use of extended culture techniques (blastocyst culturing), and a proven successful embryo cryopreservation program.
Most, though not all, egg donor cycles will result in the availability of additional embryos for cryopreservation. Transferring frozen/thawed embryos that have developed through the use of donor eggs results in a clinical pregnancy rate of 30-40% in well-run embryo cryopreservation programs. Considering a 60-80% clinical pregnancy rate with the fresh embryos and a 30-40% additional potential for success in a frozen/thawed embryo transfer cycle, the remarkable success rates achieved through egg donation becomes evident.
Choosing an Egg Donor
Finding an egg donor can be a daunting challenge for couples contemplating this method of treatment. At our New Jersey practice, we work with patients to help make the egg donation process as smooth as possible. In recent years several different options have become available for finding a potential donor, such as:
- Utilizing the resources of the infertility clinic for assistance in identifying a suitable donor. While large clinics often have a donor pool which has been screened, smaller practices may not have the internal resources to maintain readily available egg donors.
- Donor agencies have evolved which may be able to offer a larger group of carefully recruited and screened donors from a broader geographical area. Our policy within our practice has been to utilize the resources of such a donor agency, working closely with the agency toward selection of a carefully selected and screened donor, followed by a coordinated approach to treatment.
- Infrequently, intended parents will search for their own donor without the help of the infertility clinic or an egg donor agency. These searches may be accomplished through the use of websites or through advertising in magazines or newspapers.
Using a known egg donor is another option that is available to couples considering egg donation treatment. It is important for couples considering this approach to realize that the potential donor must pass the physical screening as well as the fertility testing and laboratory screening just as with any potential anonymous egg donor. Additionally the potential donor must have psychological screening with a mental health professional. The intended parents and the potential known egg donor must have a thorough discussion in the presence of the mental health professional regarding the future relationship between egg donor, the child, and the intended parents. Studies have shown that when an intended mother utilizes a sister as her egg donor, success rates are reduced. Reasons for this observation are unclear but may have something to do with familial compromise of reproductive potential which affects all female siblings. When an older sibling is chosen as an egg donor as opposed to an anonymous egg donor, reduced expectation for success is likely based upon age related reduction in fertility potential.
Egg Donation Screening
Fertility centers or agencies involved in selecting potential egg donors will provide a questionnaire for potential donors to complete. This gathers information such as age, reproductive, medical, genetic, mental health, and family history. It also includes history of sexually transmitted and infectious diseases such as hepatitis. Those candidates who meet the initial criteria will undergo a careful medical history and physical examination performed by a physician or nurse. Fertility hormone and ultrasound testing will also be performed to be sure that they are capable of producing an adequate numbers of eggs. Potential egg donors who successfully pass the initial screenings described above will undergo additional infectious disease testing as required by the FDA. These tests include screening for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis.
Learn More about Egg Donation
Egg donation is an intricate, but extremely rewarding process. If you are interested in learning more about the egg donation process, please contact our Voorhees, New Jersey practice today.