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Egg Donor choices and thoughts for intended parents

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    Richard W

    Hello everyone,

    My name is Richard and I have twins born through surrogacy. I recently started an egg donor agency called IntEGGrity to enable people to have the best choice when selecting an egg donor. I started IntEGGrity as I felt that there needed to be another option within the egg donor industry where you, as the intended parent, are put first. I always suggest to intended parents that they need to understand how egg donation works in the US hence why I’ve put together this post.

    If intended parents don’t have a friend of a relative that they can use then they start their egg donor search externally.

    Typically intended parents start by looking within the clinic that they are going to use for their IVF process. This is an option that we always suggest as a first step as this is an added value proposition offered by the clinic i.e. it is (or at least should be almost) free! The donors within the clinic will all have been through the clinic’s testing schedule and they will typically live very close to the clinic and therefore know the staff at the clinic very well. All in all great things for you as it will be better all around.

    If you don’t find an egg donor that you like through the clinic then you can start looking through egg donor databases, such as IntEGGrity, who offer a wider net of donors. Typically donors through an agency will live further afield and therefore you will have to start to factor in extra costs (travel and lodging) for the donation. The donor will also probably have to do some of the process at home so will need to see a Dr at home which could be an extra cost too.

    If you’re going to go down this route then you must realise however, that not every clinic or egg donor agency is the same. There are a small handful of agencies, IntEGGrity included, where the agency has done all of the medical testing that your donor will need to go through up-front. This is not the norm though as it means that the agency will have spent about $2,000 on the donor before the donor has even been put on our database.

    We have found that on average only 15% of amazing women that apply to be an egg donor actually make it through to even starting the medical application process. This can be for a variety of reasons but they are all social reasons and non-medical. Then about 40% of the applicants who make it through to being medically screened actually make it through these next steps in this process. So if you do the numbers you will see that on average we are seeing between 5-7% of the women that apply to be a donor actually make it to be an egg donor.

    This is a big reason as to why most egg donor agencies don’t do the testing upfront, they would be denying a lot of the potential candidates, which would reduce their database numbers. At IntEGGrity we spend a lot of money on testing that is never recovered because a lot donors fail during the screening process. BUT, we believe that this is the right thing to do; we want to ensure that you know from the outset that any donor that you are looking at on the database is going to be available to move forward with the egg donation process.

    When a donor applies to IntEGGrity she has to answer a number of questions personal questions about her life, her education, some basic medical history and also some more general information on her. Once the donor has passed through this part of the process then IntEGGrity makes her go through some more steps. All of our donors do the following:

    1 – they are tested for their Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) levels, this is a blood test that tests the donor for her ovarian reserve i.e. a donor’s follicles secrete AMH and so the higher the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries, the higher the level of AMH which shows in the bloodstream.

    2 – they are tested for their Antral Follicle Count (AFC), this is a vaginal ultrasound that counts the number of resting (antral) follicles that the donor has in her cycle. A follicle is a fluid-filled sac containing an immature egg. These can best be seen on days 2 and 3 of the donor’s cycle and varies month to month but remain roughly the same.

    3 – the donors undertake a psychological evaluation to make sure that she understands the psychological aspects of the donor screening process, the aspects of the procedure itself and the post-donation adjustment to a donation. This is done by a licensed mental health professional with expertise in egg donation and follows American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines.

    4 – the donors go through a detailed family history report of genetic information and family tree with a professional. This is a genetic risk assessment report on the donor and her family history to identify any potential risks. Again an ASRM guideline states that a family history review and assessment should be performed by a genetic counsellor trained in medical genetics.

    5 – Genetic Carrier Screening. This is a blood or saliva test whereby the genetic variants (mutations) that the donor carries are identified. This is because these mutations can potentially be passed down to the donor conceived child. IntEGGrity egg donors typically undertake the Invitae panel of 301 genetic mutations. This does not guarantee that the donor conceived child will not have a genetic mutation, but we can aim to reduce this as much as possible.

    As you can see, this is a lot of up-front testing. Happy to talk anyone through any of the above as it’s a lot of information but we believe that fully informed is fully empowered.

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