I am asked all the time – “How do I select an egg donor?” “ There’s so much to think about, where do I begin?”
First of all – take a deep breathe. You are right this can be horribly overwhelming. This is going to be one of the biggest decisions you are going to make in your life.
All we know is that we just want to have a child, grow our families and become parents. No one could have prepared us for the roller coaster ride that we have embarked upon.
But here we are – we are either so overwhelmed by the process or we don’t know where to start. Or we have poured over so many profiles that each profile is beginning to look or sound like the other.
Where do we start? And what’s important?
First of all you need to decide if you want to select an anonymous donor or a known donor. For some parents it’s important to make that personal connection with their egg donor. They may want to select an egg donor who will be willing to meet their child one day in the future. While others choose the anonymous egg donor route not wanting to know anything other than what the profile states about their donor.
Some recipient/intended parent(s) place value on GPA’s and SAT scores, and college education.
Some recipient/intended parent(s) place value in egg donors who have excelled in athletics, music, science, and a multitude of other areas.
Some recipient/intended parent(s) require their donor to be the same faith as themselves.
The majority of recipient/intended parent(s) I come across tell me they need for an egg donor to have a physical resemblance with the mom, so that the baby "looks like mom and dad". I also hear a lot "I want an egg donor who's drop dead gorgeous and bright!" Not an unreasonable request -- let's face it, who doesn't want their child to be beautiful and brilliant? Our society places a lot of focus on looks for men and women, so it's a no-brainer to me that the demand for beautiful college girls who are willing to donate their eggs is really high.
Now bear in mind -- not all young, gorgeous, beautiful college egg girls are going to make good donors. That's why medical and psychological testing is required.
As a recipient/intended parent you are spending a huge chunk of change. Being pro-active and a smart consumer is imperative when selecting an egg donor.
There is no right or wrong way to go about this – it’s all about your own personal choices.
An anonymous egg donor is an egg donor you select through a clinic or an agency that you do not meet. You do not know her name, or anything else about that’s not stated on her profile. You might or might not see a photo of the egg donor. The egg donor would know nothing about the recipient/intended parent(s) other than how many eggs were retrieved and in some instances if a pregnancy resulted.
Some terminology for those who are brand new and just starting out:
A semi-known egg donor is an egg donor that knows the recipient/intended parent(s) first name, the state in which they live and maybe they might exchange emails and photos. No personal information is given out about the egg donor or the recipient/intended parent(s) Semi-known egg donors who are matched with recipient/intended parent(s)
A known egg donor can either be a friend, or a family member. Or the egg donor is selected by the recipient/intended parent(s) and the two parties meet face to face. The egg donor will know the recipient/intended parent(s) first and last names, where they live, exchange e-mail, telephone calls, continuing to keep in contact with one another. The egg donor and the recipient/intended parent(s) may agree upon the child meeting the donor if they so wish. The recipient/intended parent(s) may send photos of their child with updates to the egg donor as well.
All egg donors should complete an in-depth egg donor profile that is compiled of several pages of questions covering their medical history, personal history, social history, and reproductive history. You do not want to do business with an egg donor agency, broker or clinic that does not require their egg donors to complete at least a medical profile. All egg donors should meet with a psychologist and be administered and pass an **MMPI and a psychological evaluation.
**The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI is the most frequently used clinical test. It is an easy test to administer and provides an objective measure of personality. It provides clear, valid descriptions of people's problems, symptoms, and characteristics in broadly accepted clinical language. It always needs to be scored, evaluated and interpreted by a licensed clinical psychologist at the Ph.D level.
Egg donors should be
* Between the ages of 19 and 30 * In good physical health as documented by history and testing * In good psychological health as documented by history and testing * Have regular menstrual periods and not using Depo-Provera * Drug free * A non-smoker of tobacco and marijuana * An E2 (Estradiol) on cycle day three (3) of less than 50 * An ***Antral follicle count of at least 15 combined. * Mature, responsible, and dependable. * Height and weight proportionate because if they are over weight it could affect egg *quality as well as take more stimulation drugs to create follicles which will cost you the recipient/intended parent(s) a lot more money. * An FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) level on cycle day three (3) if no more than eight (8), preferably under six (6)
***Antral follicles are small follicles (about 2-8 mm in diameter) that a Reproductive Endocrinologist can see, measure, and count with ultrasound. Antral follicles are also referred to as resting follicles. Vaginal ultrasound is the best way to accurately assess and count these small structures. The antral follicle counts (in conjunction with female age) are by far the best tool that we currently have for estimating ovarian reserve and/or chances for pregnancy with donor eggs through IVF.
Specific Questions To Ask An Egg Donor:
1. Does your family have a tendency towards any particular illnesses, i.e., allergies, intestinal problem, cancer, heart disease or psychological problems? Who had one or more of these illnesses, and at what age did the onset occur? (These questions should be answered completely within the donor profile)
2. Are your blood relatives living, i.e., parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles? If not, how old were they when they died, and what did they die of? (These questions should be answered completely within the donor profile)
3. Have you or any member of your immediate family ever smoked, drank or used illegal substances? To what extent are any of these, or have any of these ever been, a problem? Some agencies don’t like to ask this question. However, it’s a reasonable question as studies have shown that some forms of addiction have hereditary components –a hereditary predisposition involving brain chemistry. (These questions should be answered completely within the donor profile)
4. Have you ever been pregnant? What was the outcome? (These questions should be answered completely within the donor profile)
5. Have you ever donated eggs before? If you have, how many follicles developed? How many eggs were retrieved? How many successfully fertilized? Was there a resulting pregnancy, multiple pregnancy, and live birth(s)? The donor may or may not have this information.
6. What can you tell us about your family of origin? Who are they and what are their ages? What are their vocational and a vocational interests, hobbies, talents and dispositions? What are their physical characteristics such as coloring, size, weight and height? (These questions should be answered completely within the donor profile)
7. Do you have any children? If yes, how old are they now? When did they learn to sit up, walk and talk? Were there and are there any significant health issues we should know about? What are their sleeping and eating habits? What are their special abilities and interests? What was their birth weight and length? (These questions should be answered completely within the donor profile)
8. If you don't have children, why do you want to help us have a baby using your egg(s)? Have you considered the unlikely circumstance where at a later date you might be unable to conceive? (This should be discussed with a psychologist before the donor donates)
9. What is your family's genealogical heritage or history? What country(s) did your ancestors come from, where did they settle here, and when? (These questions should be answered completely within the donor profile)
10. Why do you want to be a donor? What do you think you will get out of it? If you have already donated, what did you get out of it?
11. If we get pregnant, will you tell your family members including your children? If so, how will you tell them, and when? Would you want your children to know that our child would share half of their genetic heritage? How will you handle their questions?
12. May we see or have pictures of your family, siblings and children? If we desire, may we meet with your immediate family, including your children?
13. Have you thought about how you'd feel if, after all this interaction and sharing, we don't get pregnant?
14. Have you thought about whether you would like any ongoing contact such as pictures, phone calls or meeting the child?
15. Is your job or school situation flexible enough to do this procedure? Do you have child care available, if you have children?