Donor egg treatment is defined as an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in which a woman uses another woman's eggs (the donor) rather than her own. This treatment is commonly needed by:
- Women who are unable to use their own eggs for conception but can still carry a child in their uterus.
- Women who have decreased ovarian function, premature ovarian failure, or genetic abnormalities. In most cases, donor egg treatment offers a high chance of pregnancy even if other infertility treatments were unsuccessful.
- Same-sex male couples
Until recently, donor egg treatment was unaffordable for the vast majority of patients. In 2008, however, Shady Grove Fertility revolutionized this treatment by developing innovative solutions to overcome the cost and donor availability issues commonly associated with traditional donor egg treatment. This means that many more patients are able to pursue donor egg treatment than ever before. Shady Grove Fertility has become the leading provider of donor egg treatment in the United States, performing more than 1,000 cycles last year alone.
What to Expect
When a couple decides to move forward with donor egg treatment, their physician will provide them with a specialized donor care team featuring the following members:
- Donor nurse
- Clinical assistant
- Recipient liaison
- Financial coordinator
- Psychologist/social worker with expertise in fertility and third-party reproduction
Though the patient will not be using her own eggs, she will still be carrying the child, so she must undergo the same screening as all infertility patients (the same goes for her partner). Additionally, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) requires donor egg recipients to meet with a social worker. The social worker will provide support and education to patients about this new way to have their family. After you have completed all testing and social work and the physician has reviewed your results with you, you will then need to decide on a financial program. This is a situation unique to donor egg treatment, in that the financial program chosen can directly impact the treatment schedule.
Selecting a Donor
Once you (the recipient) decide if you will or will not share a donor, it is time to select a donor. At Shady Grove Fertility, our goal is to make the selection process as smooth as possible for our patients. One way in which we do this is that all of our donors have been through rigorous screening before they ever appear in our donor database. They have already undergone medical, psychological, and genetic screening, ensuring for our patients that the eggs they will receive have the optimal chances for success.
Our donor team deidentifies applicants but ensures transparency in the process, and the donor database provides patients with a wealth of information. Each donor has a profile featuring demographic characteristics (eye color, race, ethnicity, etc.) and childhood photos, and 70 percent will include adult photos. The profile will also have the donor’s individual and family health history, her likes and interests, and a personal essay about her motivation to donate.
Some patients do not always find the right donor in our database. These patients (and any of our donor patients) also have access to Donor Egg Bank USA’s frozen donor egg bank, a vast database of donors with the ability to ship eggs all over the country, without presenting any risk to the eggs themselves. This provides our patients with a multitude of options when making this important decision.
Additionally, some recipients may opt for a known donor (i.e., a friend or family member) or go through an agency. In either instance, donors will still undergo the same medical and psychological screening as donors recruited by Shady Grove Fertility.
For patients not sharing donor eggs, they can move on to the next step immediately once they have chosen a donor. The time to embryo transfer is usually about 6 to 8 weeks. In the case of the Shared Donor Egg Program, once a patient has selected a donor, the patient must wait for other recipients to also choose their desired donor. If a donor is listed as a 1:3 cycle (meaning that there will be three recipients), the cycle will not move forward until at least two recipients have selected that donor. Once two recipients have selected the donor, there is a 30-day window for a third recipient to select that donor. After 30 days, the cycle moves forward and Shady Grove Fertility assumes the position of the third recipient in order to not delay the process. Once a match is completed, it usually takes about 8 weeks from that point to the embryo transfer.
To begin the clinical process, each recipient will be synchronized with the donor via birth control pills. Once a physician has performed the donor’s egg retrieval, the mature eggs will be fertilized via intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and a physician will transfer the embryo(s) to the recipient(s) on day 5 or 6 of embryo development.
For patients using frozen donor eggs, the process is simplified, as their cycle does not need to be synchronized with a donor as done in a fresh cycle. The recipient matches with a donor, Shady Grove Fertility receives the shipped frozen eggs, and the patient prepares her uterus for an embryo transfer. Once the eggs arrive at Shady Grove Fertility, it usually takes about 4 weeks from that point to prepare for the embryo transfer.
For same-sex male couples, once the couple has identified a gestational carrier and the carrier has undergone her medical and psychological screening and legal contracts are in place, they may then select an egg donor. Once a physician retrieves the eggs, one or both male partners will provide previously frozen sperm samples to inseminate the donated eggs. Once developed, a physician will transfer the embryo or embryos to the gestational carrier.
Donor Egg Success Rates
|Shared 1:3||Shared 2:3||Shared |
|Initiated Cycles||89||102||89||178||150||114 ||722|
|Embryo Transfer (ET)||41||57||50||96||79||58||381|
|Clinical Preg. (%ET)||30 |
|42 (74%) ||32 (64%) ||68 |
|49 (62%) ||45 |
|Miscarriages (%CP)||6 |
|Ongoing Preg. (%ET)||59% ||60% ||56% ||56% ||56% ||69% ||59%|
Donor Egg Success Rates
Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET) without PGT-A
Jan 1, 2018 - Dec 31, 2018
|Embryo Transfers||Clinical Pregnancy (%ET) ||Miscarriages (%CP)||Ongoing Pregnancies (% Thaws)|
|526||275 (52%) ||58 (21%) ||216 (41%)|
Donor Egg Success Rates
Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET) with PGT-A
Jan 1, 2018 - Dec 31, 2018
|Embryo Transfers||Clinical Pregnancy (%ET)||Miscarriages (%CP)||Ongoing Pregnancies (% Thaws)|
|148||82 (55%)||15 (18%)||67 (45%)|
“A comparison of clinic success rates may not be meaningful because patient medical characteristics, treatment approaches, and entry criteria for ART may vary from clinic to clinic.”
In addition to having the ability to choose the Shared Donor Egg Program, you can also participate in the Shared Risk 100% Refund Program for donor eggs. Many insurance companies do not cover the cost of donor egg treatment, but the combination of these two programs can help you significantly save on costs. The Shared Risk 100% Refund Program entitles the patient to undergo up to six cycles of fresh or frozen donor egg treatment, as well as any subsequent frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles and receive a 100 percent refund if a baby is not delivered (some exclusions apply).
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