Egg donation has helped thousands of infertile couples realize their dream of becoming parents. Egg donors enter a registry, and once selected, go through a five-phase process: initial screening, medical testing, legal process and balance of funds, synchronization & stimulation, and finally egg retrieval. This entire process is a delicate one. During each phase, there are possible complications that potentially block successful egg donation.
This first phase initially qualifies the donor. During the menstrual cycle, a donor’s blood sample will be drawn and tested for hormone levels. A psychological test is also performed. This initial screening will check for compliance with general egg donation requirements including age, BMI, healthy lifestyle, regular period cycles, and that the donor has two ovaries.
After passing the preliminary qualifications, donors meet with a doctor who focuses on cycling for a more particular set of blood and genetic testing. These tests help to ensure there is no family history of inheritable diseases, no illicit drug use, and no presence of sexually transmitted infections. If the donor must travel to reach the cycling physician, the agency can help arrange trips for the donor to the doctor’s office.
Legal Process and Balance of Funds:
After the donor has passed all screenings, legal clearance must be obtained before the donor cycle can begin. An assigned lawyer will finalize the contract between the parties. Once all parties have signed, the attorney issues a letter of clearance to the doctor allowing them to begin the donor cycle. If the terms of the contract cannot be agreed upon, the donor cycle will not be performed.
Synchronization and Stimulation:
Now the donor begins taking medication. Birth control synchronizes cycles with the carrier-to-be. Then, the donor will start self-administering injectable hormones into the stomach or thigh. The first, Lupron, is meant to put the donor in a temporary menopausal state. Next, egg growth is stimulated through injections of gonadotropins. Lastly, HGC injections stimulate ovulation. Donors prone to PMS symptoms may experience similar symptoms during the hormonal process. Close monitoring is necessary throughout these injections. The case manager will arrange for close-to-home medical support in cases where the cycling doctor is geographically apart from the carrier. Poor reactions to any of the hormone treatments may stop the donor process.
Eggs are retrieved vaginally through aspiration using an ultrasound guided needle. The donor is sedated through the 20-30 minute process that requires about two hours of post-op recovery. A trip will be arranged for the donor and a companion if the doctor is not local. Compensation is sent upon successful retrieval. Donors are extremely fertile during this process and should avoid sexual activity until they have their first menstrual period post egg extraction.