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An Orientation to Egg Donation for Men

Posted Feb 08 2014 4:34pm

Following are a collection of article that will answer many questions men have when searching for an egg donor. This is a brief orientation to help answer many of the most frequently asked questions.

One key question is always about the costs involved.  A clear overview of the fees can be found at Egg Donor Agency Fee Primer .  Another frequently asked question is, ‘What is a Travel Cycle and How Does it Work?’  Don’t reject a potential egg donor because she is not located in the same town as your clinic.  Egg donors travel all the time and it doesn’t always mean you will have to pay a lot more for your cycle.   

Dos and Don’ts of Donor Selection

Choosing an egg donor is one of the most challenging decisions you will ever make. My best advice–developed over 16 years of experience–is to look for someone who you like on a personal level, rather than someone who looks just like either intended parent.  Look for someone to whom you feel drawn, someone who feels ‘familiar’.  These feelings should be reinforced by what the potential donor has to say about herself in her essay responses.

You will want to find an egg donor who is healthy, bright, and looks like she could fit into your family while resisting the urge to look for a replacement for you or your partner. Look at each egg donor as an individual and appreciate the unique characteristics she may contribute as well as the things you have in common.

How to Choose an Egg Donor

Do

  • Take the time to realize that you and your partner are creating a child who is unique to your family and would not be created if not for your love for each other.  This still holds true even if one of you is not part of the genetic mix.
  • Let go of the ideal to allow for the real.  There is no such thing as the perfect donor.
  • Remember, the only perfect donor is the one with whom you achieve a pregnancy.
  • Your child is much more than the sum of his or her genetics.
  • Blending the genetics of any two people will bring a wonderfully unpredictable outcome in a child, a child you will cherish regardless of their hair color, eyes or their ability to play sports.
  • Read what the egg donor has to say about herself and choose someone who you can relate to.
  • Choose an egg donor who you would be happy to call your friend or daughter.
  • Choose someone who seems like a fit with your family.
  • Choose an egg donor between the ages of 21 and 30.  Donors younger than 21 may not be emotionally mature; egg donors older than 30 are not at peak fertility.
  • Aim to find an egg donor and surrogate simultaneously although they don’t need to be from the same agency
  • Act quickly.  Great candidates get chosen quickly.
  • Have a backup plan.  Choose more than one possible donor who you could be happy with so that if you find that one of the donors on your list is now in cycle, you can move to another donor who is available to cycle now.

Don’t

  • Get on a waiting list for a donor.  It is too unpredictable.
  • Keep your egg donor waiting for months at a time while you line up your surrogate.
  • Fixate on any one or two ‘must have’ characteristics such as blue eyes or a 4.2 GPA, a perfect SAT score or being model beautiful. This may cause you to miss your ‘ideal’ egg donor.
  • Set arbitrary time lines or ages by which you must have a child.  It will only create stress for you and everyone around you.

However your child comes to join your family, you will love them no matter what. They are the child you were destined to have.

Egg Donor Agency Fee Primer

All egg donor agencies charge a variety of fees to provide you with an egg donor and to ensure that all legal, psychological, and certain insurance needs are covered. Following is a general range of egg donor agency fees.  Note that fees may vary from one agency to the next.

Egg donor agency administrative fees are generally in the $4,000 – $8,000 range. This does not include the egg donor’s fee, medical fees, or egg donor expenses. Some agencies give you a bundled fee that includes legal fees, psychological fees, insurance fees, and agency administrative fees.  Others charge a separate fee for each service or ask you to pay each fee directly to the service provider.  These fees are usually nonnegotiable.  Most egg donor agencies spend a lot of money to recruit donors and don’t have a high profit margin.  The other fees for legal, psychological, and other services are fairly standard and, again, have little or no wiggle room.

A new trend with a few egg donor agencies is to break fees down to include matching and coordination fees.  Some agencies are starting to contract out the cycle coordination fee to independent agencies that will handle the details of the cycle.  These cycle coordinating or management agencies often handle the donor’s fee, booking travel arrangements, and distribution of expense reimbursement.

Egg donor fees are the greatest variable. An egg donor’s fee can range from $4,000 to $10,000, if the agency is abiding by American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines.  The fee for particularly unique and desirable donors can be as high as $30,000.  Generally, you need not pay that much to get what you want in an egg donor.

Basic Egg Donor Agency Cost

The following fees do not include medical costs for services or medications required:

  • Administrative fee for the egg donor program: $4,000 – $8,000*
  • International fee: $500 – $2,000
  • Egg donor fees: $4,000 – $30,000
  • Egg donor expenses: $600 – $6,000 (if travel is required)
  • Legal fees: $750 – $1500
  • Egg donor insurance: $400 – $500
  • Egg donor psychological screening: $400 – $1,000, depending on the level of testing.  Expect the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) at a minimum.  Usually intelligence testing will cost more

*Donor Concierge has arranged for most of the agencies we work with to give our clients between $250 and $500 off of their administrative fee.

What is a Travel Cycle and How Does it Work?

A travel cycle, in third-party fertility terms, is when your egg donor lives in another city, usually more than an hour’s drive from your fertility clinic.  Though the ideal situation would be if the donor lived close enough that all of her appointments could take place at your clinic, it doesn’t always work out that way.  Sometimes you can’t find a candidate locally that is a good fit for you.

Your fertility specialist will oversee all elements of the cycle while another fertility clinic, near your egg donor, will follow your physician’s protocol as they handle the early monitoring appointments.  Your egg donor will make one or two trips to your clinic.

The first visit will be brief and may not even require an overnight stay, depending on her location.  This appointment will be for your physician to examine and approve the egg donor for your cycle.  In many cases this appointment may be also done at the monitoring clinic following your physician’s instructions.

The second trip will occur between day 3 and 5 of your donor’s folic stimulation phase of the cycle.  Because egg donation is an invasive procedure and there is always the risk of hyper stimulation, it’s necessary that your donor have a travel companion on the second visit (for egg retrieval).  Her travel companion can care for her after the procedure to make sure your egg donor gets back to her hotel safely, gets plenty of fluids, takes it easy, and can notify your physician immediately if she does have any negative response due to the procedure.  On this trip she will be in town for 7-9 days through the retrieval and usually for 24-48 hours after.

Working with a donor from outside your area may not cost you significantly more than a local cycle.  Donor fees vary from state to state and agency to agency.  So, if you choose a donor whose fees are lower, the additional expenses for travel and remote monitoring may be minimal.

The costs involved will include:

  • Remote monitoring fees which, depending on your clinic, you may be credited for appointments that don’t take place in your own clinic.  In which case, the remote clinic fees may not increase your overall cycle cost.
  • Some agencies charge a fee to arrange remote cycles; others may use an outside service to make all travel arrangements.
  • Airfare for your donor and a travel companion (for second trip only).
  • Hotel for your donor and a travel companion for one room (many clinics get a reduced rate at local hotels).
  • Transportation to and from hotel, clinic, and airport.
  • Daily stipend to cover meals and miscellaneous ($50 – $75 a day).
 The Myth of the Ivy League Egg Donor

I often have intended parents contact me in hopes of finding an Ivy League egg donor.  This is not surprising and is not a case of couples looking for a designer baby.  95% of intended parents that I work with have advanced degrees from impressive universities such as Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, and MIT.  My clients are often looking for someone like themselves, but the truth is that very few egg donors are women from Ivy League schools.

There are a variety of reasons why women who attend Ivy League schools do not choose to be egg donors:

  • They may not have the financial incentive.
  • They may not have the time that being an egg donor requires.
  • Their family may not support them in being an egg donor.
  • Being an egg donor may not be seen as socially acceptable among their peers.

I have also had reproductive endocrinologists tell me that Ivy League donors, on the rare occasions when they have worked with them, tend to be more stressed out than the average egg donor.  Stress is never good for an IVF cycle as it can cause the donors to not respond well to medication.

The bottom line is that while, on occasion, one may find a donor who has amazing SAT scores and is attending a Top 100 university, they are few and far between.  What you can find are college-educated women, who are bright, look like they could fit into your family, and who are wonderful individuals who would love to help you to build your family.  At Donor Concierge, we have access to more egg donors than anyone in the world.  If these women were out there, I would have found them and I can tell you there are not very many.

In most cases, if we take an egg from a reasonably intelligent female, fertilized by a reasonably intelligent male, you will have an intelligent child.  This child will then be raised in a family of high academic achievers and is likely to do very well in this environment.  Nobel prize winners rarely beget Nobel Prize winners, though their children are reasonably smart and live happy well-adjusted lives.

 

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