Donor Oocyte Program
Donor Oocyte Process
The first step begins with an evaluation from one of our reproductive endocrinologists who will discuss your diagnosis and goals with you and help you understand your treatment options. The most common reason why people choose egg donation is because of poor egg quality due to advanced maternal age or premature ovarian insufficiency. Another indication is for women who carry some serious genetic disease and wish to diminish the chances that the disease will be passed on to their offspring. A third indication is for same sex male couples or single males in conjunction with a gestational carrier.
Eggs from young women have greater fertility potential than eggs from older women. Research has shown that the age of the female partner is the single most important factor in predicting the success of IVF and other assisted reproductive therapies for patients with infertility. In 2019, for women under 35, the live birth rate with IVF for infertile patients was 46.7%. This is significantly higher than live birth rates for women older than 40 with infertility. Women older than 40 can realistically expect a live birth rate of 3-10% if utilizing their own eggs.
If you decide that participating in our donor egg (oocyte) program is the right choice for you, you will meet and work closely with our egg donor coordinator during the entire process. In this therapy, eggs from another woman (the donor) are fertilized with the patient's partner or a donor’s sperm, and the resulting embryos are placed in a recipient's uterus. The donor may be known to and recruited by the recipient and intended parent (directed), or instead may be unknown to the recipient or intended parent, having been recruited by the IVF program (non-identified).
Laboratory Testing and Genetic Screening
Egg donors are generally healthy young women, usually between the ages of 21-30. Before being chosen as donors, they undergo psychological and medical screening to determine if they are likely to be a good donor candidate. The screening includes a thorough psychologic evaluation, a medical history, a physical exam and laboratory testing.
Potential egg donors will have an in-depth evaluation of their medical and family history. The donor is required to fill out a multi-page form detailing her family history. This form and other aspects of the donor's genetic and medical history are reviewed by the administrators of the oocyte donation program prior to acceptance into the program. Once a donor is chosen, they undergo extensive testing for sexually transmitted infections to minimize the chances that such an infection will be passed from the donor to the recipient and possibly the fetus. In addition, the donor's blood type will be determined. The donor's blood type may be a factor in making the match between donor and recipient. Additionally, donors will undergo expanded genetic carrier screening to test for an inherited risk of a number of different genetic disorders. Even with this intensive screening, there remains a small risk that a baby resulting from the oocyte donation process will suffer from a genetic disease. Overall, the risks that a baby conceived through the oocyte donation process will have some birth defect, trivial or catastrophic, genetic or non-genetic, are the same as they are for the human population as a whole, namely 3-5 percent.
Matching Donor and Recipient
We understand that choosing to receive donated oocytes carries with it a giving up of hope for pregnancy with one's own oocytes, and this can be a feeling of great loss. There are probably many characteristics that you hope your oocyte donor will possess, and you probably hope that your oocyte donor will have many of your characteristics. We will do what we can to select a donor who meets your most important expectations, but you must understand that we will always face certain limitations. One requirement of our non-identified donation program is that anonymity be maintained to the greatest extent possible. In order to accomplish this, we are limited in the amount of information that we can give you about the donor. We cannot tell you much more than the donor's height and weight, hair color and eye color, race, blood type, age, and duration of formal education. You have the right to be as specific as you like about the characteristics of the donor, but need to understand that the more specific you are, the longer the entire process may be delayed. If your criteria are extremely specific and detailed, there is a possibility we may never find a donor who meets your expectations. It is the impression of the director of the donor oocyte program that women who agree to donate their oocytes tend to be upbeat, energetic, resilient, and altruistic. If they did not have these personality characteristics, they probably would not be willing to undergo the discomfort and risks involved in oocyte donation in the first place. Thus, to at least a small extent, the process of oocyte donation tends to select for women with these favorable personality characteristics. Many of our donors are students in good standing in one of the schools of the UT Health Science Center.
The Egg Donation Process
In general, stimulation of the oocyte donor's cycle is brought about using a similar regimen of drugs that a woman using her own oocytes for in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer is commonly given. The egg donor will receive hormone injections to produce development of multiple eggs. During the time that the donor is receiving the gonadotropin injections, she will undergo frequent vaginal ultrasound examinations and blood draws for determination of the estradiol (E2) level. When ultrasound and blood testing indicate that development of the follicles (follicles are the fluid-filled ovarian structures that contain the oocytes) is optimum, oocyte retrieval is performed. We will need a sperm specimen on the day of the retrieval to inseminate the eggs. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the recipient's uterus or frozen for future transfer.
Treatment Regimen for Recipients
If a “fresh” embryo transfer is desired, the recipient's cycle must be manipulated to synchronize her with the donor. Hormonal medication is used to modify the recipient's cycle to prepare the uterus to accept the embryo.
In a frozen transfer, the embryos are frozen and transferred at a later time. Once ready, the recipient will begin medication to prep the uterine lining for transfer of the embryo.
If I’m interested in Becoming an Egg Donor
UT Health Fertility Center doctors are also faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine. This allows us to remain one of the most cost-efficient fertility practices in the area. Our staff is happy to answer questions about referrals, itemized diagnostic and treatment costs and billing options. The UT Health Fertility Center participates in a variety of insurance plans. For your convenience, we accept VISA, MasterCard, and Discover.