What is Egg Donation?
Egg donation is the process through which an individual uses a known or, in most cases, anonymous egg donor in order to achieve a pregnancy through various methods, depending on circumstances.
This method is popular for women in a variety of circumstances, such as those who wish for pregnancy, but are unable to achieve one because they have literally run out of eggs of their own. In addition to working for women that are at an advanced reproductive age, it also works for those that have eggs with chromosomal abnormalities.
Requirements To Be An Egg Donor
VEDA accepts donors of all ethnic backgrounds and races for the programme, to allow us to select the ideal donor for each recipient. Donating eggs does not reduce the donor’s chances of becoming pregnant at a later stage.
Women between the ages of 21 and 32 can be egg donors. To be accepted as an egg donor, the patient must undergo a free clinical examination of their reproductive system together with a vaginal ultrasound; hormone blood tests. The examination provides valuable information regarding their own fertility and their state of health as well as specialised counselling concerning their potential to be mothers.
We assess your egg quality by looking at your hormone profile (blood tests) done on the second and third day of the menstrual cycle. We confirm the absence of illnesses such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis, syphilis, cytomegalovirus, as well as the blood group.
Five Step Process
Your first step as an egg donor at Vitalab is to fill out an online application form. All applications are done through this online portal and once submitted, it shows us if you would be a good candidate for donation. Once we have assessed you as a potential donor you will be invited in for a consultation with our Egg Donor Team, who will explain the process in detail. Consultations are held on weekdays in our clinic and takes approximately two hours.
The initial visit includes a physical examination, psychological testing, blood tests, and an instructional session with one of Vitalab’s Nurse Co-ordinators. This initial consultation can be completed in less than two hours. Once you are approved as a donor, we set a convenient date to begin the egg donation cycle.
3. Follicular development
To increase the chances of success with egg donation, we try to obtain multiple eggs for fertilization and conception. Donors are treated with fertility medications that stimulate the development of egg follicles (the part of the ovary that releases the egg). These medicines have been used for over 20 years and these are the same drugs used by women undergoing IVF treatment who use their own eggs. Donors receive these medications free of charge, along with detailed information and instructions. Donors learn how to inject the medications themselves if they so choose or can come into the unit daily for these injections. The Vitalab Nurse Co-ordinator will also explain the temporary side effects that some women may experience, while taking the medications.
4. Monitoring your cycle
The donation cycle usually takes from three to five weeks. For the first seven to ten days, you will take your injections at home, and we will stay in contact with you by telephone. During the next two weeks, you will need to visit Vitalab for blood tests and ultrasound examinations. These visits usually last less than 30 minutes, and are scheduled between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. This daily monitoring tells us how the follicles are developing, allowing the Gynaecologist to decide the right time to retrieve the eggs and complete the cycle.
In certain cases, when there is excessive egg production (more than 20) with a risk of hyper stimulation or, when only a few (less than 4) are produced, the treatment may be cancelled before reaching donation. This may not prevent a new cycle commencing, based on what has been learned in the previous stimulation, to be able to make the donation.
5. Egg retrieval
The egg retrieval (or aspiration) is done on an outpatient basis. It is performed using intravenous sedation (not a full anaesthetic). You will sleep during the retrieval, and you will not feel pain. The procedure takes about 30 minutes. It is done using vaginal ultrasound to help locate the eggs ready for retrieval thus leaving no visible scarring at all.
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery area for approximately 45-60 minutes. Once you have fully recovered from the sedation you may go home. Because you will have received intravenous sedation, you will need a friend or family member to escort you home. You may not drive a vehicle yourself for 24 hours after receiving the sedation. If there is any discomfort, it is normally no more than that associated with a normal period, although this depends on the sensitivity of the individual patient. This discomfort can be controlled with normal pain relieving medication.
Most donors experience a great deal of personal satisfaction from this unique act of giving. However, occasionally donors experience ambivalence or uncertainty about their decision. Our psychological counselling professionals are available at any time during and after the cycle to offer emotional support.
Some women may experience side effects including tenderness in the breasts or ovaries, fluid retention, and moodiness. These can take up to two weeks after the egg collection to disappear completely. There are risks to this procedure that are extremely rare and will be discussed during the consultation with the doctor.
Becoming An Egg Recipient
Groups of women who are possible candidates as recipients for the oocyte donation programme:
• Those lacking spontaneous menstruation, due to the menopause, premature ovarian failure, or removal of both ovaries or after chemo- or radiotherapy.
• Women who, despite normal menstruation, cannot use their own oocytes, either because of their poor quality or because of hereditary transmittable diseases.
Nowadays, many social factors have led to menopausal women wishing to be pregnant: their increased life expectancy, their integration in the work place (something that has delayed the age of marriage and the timing of first pregnancy), as well as a greater number of couples starting off in their forties.
• Women with recurrent in vitro fertilisation failure
• Low (poor) responders: those who do not respond well or at all to ovarian stimulation
• Recurrent failure of the eggs to fertilize with ICSI
• Recurrent failure of the embryos to implant
• Poor egg quality
• Repeated miscarriages due to poor oocyte quality – Ovaries inaccessible for obtaining oocytes safely: the ‘frozen’ pelvis with multiple adhesions after surgery or severe infections
To Apply as a Recipient for Egg Donation:
• Please fill out our online application form
• Provide your previous medical and gynaecological history
• Provide reports of previous treatments at other centres
• Have undergone recent hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV tests of both partners
• Provide blood groups of both partners
• Complete and sign the informed consent for in vitro fertilisation by oocyte donation
Similar to other organ transplant programmes, all our recipients are then included in a waiting list to begin treatment.
In the case of an anonymous donation, the sourcing will take place with the guidance and help of one of our reputable egg donation agencies. They will ensure that potential donors are evaluated clinically, psychologically and biochemically. Once all parties are satisfied, the actual medical process of egg donation begins.
You can also call VEDA now and we’ll guide you every step of the way.