Exploring Your Options: Egg Donation
As a nurse practitioner working in the field of infertility for 20 years, I have been fortunate to witness thousands of patients’ journeys to parenthood. Overcoming infertility is never easy, especially for patients who find out their chance of conceiving with their own eggs is not likely. Thankfully, there are young, healthy, giving women who decide to become egg donors. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with egg donation is a very successful avenue by which women who are unable to achieve a pregnancy due to advanced reproductive age, genetic abnormalities, previous surgeries, or other conditions, can finally conceive.
Egg donors are 21-32 years old and have to pass a thorough medical and psychological screening process. They take medications for about two weeks that stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The eggs are retrieved via the vaginal canal with an ultrasound guided needle under sedation. This process does not take away from their future egg supply. In fact, donors can choose to donate their eggs up to six times. In the New York area, donors are compensated $10,000 per cycle for their time and effort.
There are several factors to consider when choosing an egg donor. Some patients prefer that the egg donor match the recipient physically - race/ethnicity, hair color, eye color, height, and skin tone. Some patients indicate preferences for other attributes, such as educational level, music or artistic inclinations, and some prefer a donor who has donated before. It is important to consider the personal and family medical history of the donor. For example, if the sperm source’s family medical history consists of more than one individual with diabetes, it would be wise to choose an egg donor without diabetes in her family medical history. The genetic panels of both the egg donor and the sperm source will also be compared.
At RMA of New York, there are several ways to go about identifying an egg donor match. The first option is to find a donor through a frozen egg bank. RMA of New York works with two agencies, Donor Egg Bank USA and Fairfax Egg Bank. Patients can search through profiles and photos on the banks’ websites of egg donors who have already passed screening and whose eggs have already been retrieved and frozen. Once a donor is chosen, the eggs are shipped to RMA of New York in about 2 weeks.
The second option is to use an anonymous egg donor (fresh eggs, not frozen) from RMA of New York. After submitting a recipient profile to our waitlist, patients wait about 1-3 months for a match. Once we identify a suitable match, patients receive baby photos and a profile of the donor. Patients can then decide whether they accept the proposed donor. If patients would like to move forward, they can choose to do a “shared” cycle (the patient receives half of the retrieved eggs), or a “non-shared cycle” (the patient receives ALL of the retrieved eggs).
A third option to consider is a donor egg agency. Donor egg agencies are independent businesses that provide donor options for fresh egg cycles. Once a donor is chosen through an agency, the donor can donate at RMA of New York as long as she passes the screening process.
I have learned a lot from my patients throughout the years. First, egg donors are selfless and generous individuals who have often reiterated to me that the sense of reward they feel from helping others is more valuable than the compensation they receive. Secondly, my recipient patients have taught me that when life throws a curveball, it’s how you handle that curveball that can change your life forever. Their continued positivity and hope is inspiring and I am grateful to all of them.