Egg donation is one of the most common assisted reproduction treatments in Europe and the US, as every year 1000-1500 children are born worldwide from donated eggs.
This is a process in which a young woman (donor) supplies eggs to the couple of recipients, which are fertilized with the sperm of the recipient’s husband / partner and the resulting embryos are implanted into the recipient. According to the Greek law, egg donation is an anonymous process and the law protects the anonymity of both parties. Thus the recipient waives any legal claim against the donor.
Medical information regarding the donor’s identity will be registered and stored in the IVF unit. Access to these files is permitted in the future if there are issues related to the child’s health. In such a case, the anonymity of the donor will be protected and only the necessary medical information will be revealed.
It is worth noting that egg donation is much more difficult and complicated than sperm donation, because a woman has to undergo a process of ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval to donate eggs. This requires a specific period of time and injectable drug treatment.
Egg donation is often the only option for having a child for groups of women with:
- Premature ovarian aging and low AMH
- Poor ovarian response to pharmaceutical stimulation for IVF
- Repeated IVF failures
- A history of multiple miscarriages
- Normal ovaries that carry an inherited genetic abnormality
Egg donation has very high success rates, since eggs come from young women <30 years of age with usually documented fertility. For this reason, it is very attractive method of treatment.
Usually the eggs come from women who, for altruistic reasons, undergo ovarian stimulation and subsequent egg retrieval.
More rarely eggs may be come from women undergoing IVF themselves, usually due to male infertility (egg sharing).
Even more rarely eggs (ova) may come from donor egg banks.
The law prohibits relatives (sisters, etc.) from donating ova to their relatives because in such cases the anonymity set out by the law is no longer valid. The law also explicitly prohibits the mixing of eggs coming from a donor with the recipient’s eggs.
Donor screening process
Every woman up to the age of 30, who is healthy and has a healthy history, can, theoretically, become an egg donor. Candidates for egg donation fill out a medical history form as well as a genetic questionnaire and then undergo extensive exams for hepatitis, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, hormonal profile and screening for cystic fibrosis and thalassemia trait. They also have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation of their psychological profile.
Decision to use donor eggs
The decision to use donor eggs is often a difficult decision for a couple. In our initial appointment we will discuss all issues concerning the non-genetic mother-child relationship, the history of the fertility problem, the choice to have children at an advanced age and the aspects of communicating this fact to relatives or even the unborn child itself.
The views on egg donation vary in the Greek population. It is easier for a couple to accept donor egg fertilization than donor sperm, although in recent years both phenomena are very common. What makes it easier for a woman to accept donor eggs is that the woman receiving a donor egg becomes herself pregnant with the child and gives birth to it, which makes her feel the joy of motherhood.
For this decision, we may need to refer you to a qualified psychologist for counseling and emotional support.
The recipient and her husband must undergo blood tests for HIV, hepatitis B & C, syphilis, rhesus blood group while the husband has to undergo semen analysis [spermiogram] [link].
When the final decision is made, we try to match the characteristics of the recipient to the donor (height, eye color, hair color, skin type) as well as the blood group – Rhesus.
Donor – Recipient Synchronization Process
In order for the woman using the donor egg to accept donor ova it is necessary to synchronize her cycle with that of the donor. This is often done by using contraceptive tablets or drugs of the GnRH class (Daronda – Arvecap) that suppress the ovarian function of the recipient.
This is followed by the ovarian stimulation of the recipient ovaries with medicines to produce ova. During this time, the recipient is treated with estrogen to prepare the uterus and undergoes utrasound scans to verify the thickness and quality of the endometrium.
When ova are mature, egg-retrieval is scheduled. On the day of oocyte sampling, the recipient / partner of the recipient provides semen, with which the donor’s eggs are fertilized. Two to five days later, the resulting embryos are implanted into the recipient. Blood test – a test to determine the success of the attempt is performed 14 days after egg retrieval.
In conclusion, the decision to receive an donor egg is for hundreds of couples the only solution to become parents. Many of you may have serious ethical concerns. When it comes to ethics there is no right or wrong, black or white, only different views. These views can vary between countries and cultures.
Maternity, even at an advanced age is also a controversial subject. However, it is the inalienable right of every woman to become a mother when her nature has prematurely deprived her of that possibility. Very wisely, however, Law 3305/2005 sets as a limit the age of 50 to the right of women to give birth.