Finding an Egg Donor
An Informal Guide
You may have reached a point in your infertility treatment where your doctor has advised you to consider using an egg donor in order to help you conceive.
You will have now discussed - or you will need to discuss - egg donation with your Genea accredited doctor.
Genea recommends that you try to find someone with whom you share a close and trusting relationship to undertake this journey with you. The majority of egg donation treatments at Genea happen because of the help of a close friend or relative, such as a sister or a cousin.
It might be useful to note that the more people who know of your need for an egg donor the more chance there is of someone offering to help. It is important that the person who helps you is not dependent on you. For example, it should not be someone who works for you. Also, we have a firm policy at Genea that we will not facilitate egg donation from a daughter to her mother.
An egg donor you don’t know
For some people the option of donation from a friend or relative is not possible. You might then consider “recruiting” someone unknown to you. Thinking about involving a third party in such an intimate aspect of your lives will understandably raise many anxieties for you as a couple. It is important that you, as a couple are comfortable with this. Genea can not in any way act as an agent for you or your egg donor. It is you who makes the decision; it is a personal one, and you must be prepared to take complete responsibility for it.
To find a potential donor you may use the Internet (for example: www.essentialbaby.com.au;
www.aussieeggdonors.com) or advertise in a family orientated publication such as Sydney’s Child (www.sydneyschild.com.au).
It is not Genea policy to encourage you to enlist a stranger to help you, but we can, from our knowledge of the experience others have had, highlight some of the issues you should consider should this be a path you choose to take.
When making contact with a potential donor (and there are people who are genuinely looking to help), you should protect your privacy until you are relatively confident that the donor is genuine.
If ethnicity of the donor is important to you, be sure to specify it from the start.
Suggestions others have made include, firstly trying to establish a good rapport on the telephone or via email. The initial meeting should be at a neutral venue. Perhaps only exchange identifying details when all parties are comfortable, so take time getting to know one another. After your first meeting you may feel ready to invite the donor and her partner to your home or to visit hers if she prefers. Some donors have been keen for recipients to meet their children early in the process, and this can be reassuring.
Some matters for you to consider with a potential egg donor
Genea believes it is important for both psychological and medical reasons that a child know his or her genetic origins.
Ethical guidelines require that we do not use donors who do not consent to the release of identifying information to the donor conceived person. Pending legislation will require that donor information is placed on a donor register.
It is necessary that recipients of donor eggs be prepared to share the donor information with their child.
Other things to consider include:
- The reasons why a woman wants to donate and whether she has done so before
- The nature of her family situation, including the number and health of her children
- Whether she has a partner, and if so whether the partner wholeheartedly supports her becoming a donor for you
- Although there have been exceptions, the donor should ideally have finished her own family and still be under 35.
If you are successful in having a baby, your egg donor will be, and will always remain, a significant person in your life and the lives of your children. It is important, therefore, to take your time to make sure you and your partner are comfortable with your potential donor and her family.
Your donor should be aware that the donation process will involve a degree of inconvenience, discomfort and risk. If you feel that the donor may not be agreeable to this or might make you feel uncomfortable about demands on her time, you may wish to reconsider.
Can we ensure the donor is healthy?
The short answer is that you cannot.
Genea always recommends a period of “quarantine” for embryos that come from egg donation, but the list of infections looked for does not - and it cannot - cover all organisms that could one day be shown to be harmful.
Whereas a donor you have known for years might have an advantage in that you will, most likely, already be more or less familiar with her physical and psychological health, her use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and her general lifestyle (though there are exceptions and such knowledge should not necessarily be taken at face value), this knowledge will usually be harder to gain about someone who starts by being a stranger.
Before donation proceeds, your Genea doctor will need to meet your donor. But you should remember that even though tests will be done for infections such as HIV, hepatitis and syphilis, it is rarely possible to be sure that there are no medical or genetic factors that you would want to know about and take into account, if they could be discovered. It is unrealistic to conclude from such a consultation that there are no medical or social risks. If you are not prepared to risk significant uncertainties you should not proceed: neither your doctor nor Genea can take these risks for you.
Your doctor will be spending at least as much time fulfilling a professional obligation to your potential donor as he or she will be spending trying to help you. A priority the doctor will have, is to make sure that your potential donor understands the risks she is taking in having IVF on your behalf, and will be focussing on her as a person in her own right and in the context of her own family.
When you have found a donor you and your partner are happy with, the next step is for her to make an appointment to be seen by your Genea accredited doctor. Your doctor will spend time in private with her and her partner. If there are no obvious medical, psychological or social reasons why she would be unsuitable, your Genea doctor will refer all of you to Genea for implications counselling. Before the treatment for egg retrieval and IVF takes place, all the people directly involved will be required to attend counselling sessions with the Genea counsellor, including a session with both couples present together.
Issues covered during these sessions will include openness and disclosure, boundaries, your future relationship if there is a child, future donations, and explaining the situation to the donor’s children. These are all issues that everyone concerned should come to a suitable level of agreement about before treatment starts.
Please remember the counselling department is here to help you, so do not hesitate to contact us on 02 9229 6420 for further information at any stage of your journey.