Issues pertaining to egg donation
Donors can be known or anonymous. A family member (sister or niece) or a close friend can act as an egg donor. The other option is to advertise and recruit anonymous donor.
The long-standing debate is whether it is morally correct to pay the donors. In the UK, from 2012 legislation from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK regulator of fertility treatments, allows clinics to compensate donors (up to £750) for their travel and expenses.
Another potentially controversial point is anonymity. Some donors would like to meet the recipient and to know what sort of person is going to receive her eggs. But this can lead to other social problems. Some donors do not wish to know or meet the recipient. They would like to know only the basic information about the recipient. Along the same lines, many recipients do not like to know or meet the donors. But, some would like to meet and know the donor before proceeding with the treatment.
Who can be an egg donor?
Any healthy woman who is:
- Less than 35 years old
- Not overweight (BMI less than 30)
- No family history of genetic or inherited diseases
- No history of mental illness
It is preferable for the donor to have had a healthy child (or children) of her own but not required.
Types of donor
Altruistic egg donors
Altruistic egg donors generously choose to donate their eggs for altruistic reasons. Altruistic egg donors are not paid but can be compensated for the expenses they incur in connection with the donation process, such as travel costs, accommodation, loss of earnings and childcare. Altruistic egg donors may receive compensation of up to £750 per cycle of donation. Should you choose to receive eggs from an altruistic donor in a fresh egg donation treatment cycle, we will allocate all of the eggs collected from that donor’s treatment cycle to you, i.e. you will not share the eggs with another recipient.
Egg share donors
Egg sharing is process whereby a woman who needs IVF shares half of the eggs collected during her treatment cycle with an anonymous recipient in return for heavily subsidised treatment costs.
Frozen eggs from HSFC’s egg bank
Due to recent advances in egg freezing techniques, which provide freezing and thawing success rates are over 90%, it is now not necessary to use fresh eggs for egg donation cycles. Harley Street Fertility Clinic has established an egg bank of frozen eggs from UK donors. One of the benefits of using frozen donor eggs from our egg bank is the lack of worry of the number eggs you might receive for your treatment: we guarantee a minimum of 10 mature frozen eggs for each treatment cycle. Frozen eggs do require fertilisation by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and the extra charge for this is included in our treatment cost for a recipient using frozen donor eggs.
Screening of donors
Egg donors initially have a consultation with a doctor who will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination. The doctor will explain the procedure involved in egg donation treatment. The donor will then see a nurse to fill out some basic information about herself. She will then be provided with a letter, containing a medical history form that she must complete and have confirmed by her GP.
Once we receive the completed medical history form (provided everything is clear), the donor will be offered a session implications counselling, with an accredited fertility counsellor, to discuss the social and ethical issues pertaining to egg donation.
The donor will also be asked to attend the clinic for a vaginal ultrasound scan and hormone blood tests between days 2 and 5 of her period. These tests are performed to assess the current fertility of the donor.
All donors are then screened for the following:
- Full blood count
- Blood group and Rhesus type
- HIV and HTLV
- Hepatitis B and C
- Syphilis (VDRL)
- Cytomegalovirus virus (CMV) antibodies screening
- Chromosomal analysis
- Cystic fibrosis screening
- High vaginal swab
- Chlamydia and gonorrhoea (urine test)
In non-Caucasian donors, other screening tests are carried out in suitable cases:
- Sickle cell tests for Africans
- Thalassaemia screening for Asians and Mediterraneans
- Taysach’s disease screening for Jews
Donors must inform the clinic of any medical information that may come to light after donation that may have health implications for any woman who receives treatment with their eggs or for any child born as a result of such treatment.
The screening process may reveal previously unknown conditions or infections, some of which may be treatable. Donors’ chromosomes are screened and therefore previously unsuspected genetic disorders may be brought to light. We will arrange referral to Genetics Counselling and provide support. In some situations genetic disorders may affect other members of a donor’s direct family and we will discuss the relevant issues with the donor should these come to light.
Immediately prior to starting her stimulation the donor will be screened once more for infectious diseases (HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea) by a new method called the nucleic acid amplification technique (NAT). In addition to providing a repeat set of results, this technique allows early detection of viral infections that may have a incubation period during which they cannot be detected by traditional methods (e.g. HIV can be dormant for up to 180 days).