Becoming an Egg Donor
HCRM matches egg donation with prospective patients. An egg donor should be a healthy, non-smoker female between the ages of 21 and 30. Our team will screen the donor for a variety of health concerns including a genetic screening and psychological evaluation. Potential donors may be women who are finished having children of their own, are attending college, or waiting to have children until later in life.View transcript
At Heartland here we have a very active donor egg program. We match donors with recipient parents, approximately four to six matches every month for IVF cycles. Donors need to be between the age of 21 and at the oldest 31. They need to be healthy young women who want to donate. They need to want to help somebody have a family. So they're healthy in terms of their medical history and their family history. We screen them for all the infectious diseases to make sure they don't have any. They have a psychological consultation to make sure that this is something they're going to be happy that they did. We have them see a genetics counselor, and we test them for all the common genetic diseases that people can be carriers for to make sure that they're not carriers. Most of our egg donors find us through our website or through word of mouth. We take very good care of our donors. We really appreciate what they're doing to help somebody have a family. And often they tell their friends about us, and their friends will then call and want to be an egg donor also. Sometimes donors are sensitized to the desire to be an egg donor by hearing about it on a TV show or talking to somebody who has used a donor, and she witnesses the happiness and the satisfaction of them creating a family. And so she's sensitized to want to become an egg donor herself and help a family to realize their goal of having children. Some of our egg donors have had their own children already, and they come to me and they say, "I have three of the most beautiful children ever created. I'm all done. I want to help somebody else. I'm still young." Others of our donors are college women who many are in the medical profession, so they're very comfortable with medical procedures, and they know they're not going to have their own children until their late 20s, early 30s because of their educational program. And so they say, "This is the best time for me to be able to help somebody else." Eggs are at their best quality when a woman is in her early to mid-20s, and they realize that. They're not scared by the medical procedure, and they deeply want to help someone. There is a stipend that they receive, and they use that often to pay their college loans or whatever. Egg donors can be anonymous, which means that their identity is never revealed to the recipients. The recipients know the age and the height and weight and eye color and hair color and ethnic background, but they don't know the name or the identity of the donor. Other donors are what we term directed donors, meaning they know the recipient. It could be a younger sister or a cousin, and they know each other thoroughly and may be related to each other. If there is someone in the family available that wants to donate, that's a very good situation because you're able to use the family genetics. Sometimes that's a very comfortable thing. In other families, that's just not the right way to go, and it's a better choice to choose an anonymous donor. It's a wonderful program, and a lot of these couples are at . . . this is their last opportunity. They've tried everything else, and they haven't been successful. And so when someone donates for them and enables them to have their dream come true in terms of being able to give birth to their own baby, it's an amazing thing. The FDA regulated all gamete donation in 2005. So, of course, we meet and exceed all of the FDA regulations, but that guides us to check both sides- the recipient couple and the donor-to make sure that they don't have any infectious disease processes. Other than that, however, we make sure that the donor match is going to be good. It's very important to me that this child born has a good strong resemblance to their family. They need a good fit within their family. So if someone is of Irish-German origin, we want to match that appropriately so that that child born has the brown hair that the family has or the red hair that the family has. They don't have to be a strong look-a-like but a good fit. We take excellent care of our donors. We stimulate their ovaries gently, firmly to get a good success rate, but also we're always being aware of taking good care of the donor. So she gives herself shots usually twice a day-injections twice a day-to stimulate her ovaries. She comes in three or four or five times during the process to have her hormone levels checked and an ultrasound done. Then the day of retrieval, she goes to the OR. It's about a 15-, 20-minute procedure. It's a simple procedure, but she needs to have somebody drive her here and drive her home because she's been to sleep during the procedure. And she's going to have some minor discomforts. We ask her to take it easy that day, not go to work that day. But usually she's right back at work the next day or back to her normal activities the next day.