There are two types of egg donors:
- altruistic egg donors – women who do not require fertility treatment and who have usually completed their own families, who are willing to undergo a cycle of IVF drugs and egg collection and to donate all the collected eggs to women who are unable to use their own eggs to conceive. Altruistic egg donors receive £750 compensation for each complete donor cycle. However they are usually motivated by the thought of not being able to have the children which they have been able to conceive naturally and usually quite ‘easily’, and the wish to help women who are not so fortunate
- egg share donors – women who meet certain criteria can reduce the cost of their IVF or ICSI treatment and also help other women have IVF or ICSI treatment using donor eggs, by agreeing to donate up to half the eggs collected in their treatment cycles
Most donor egg treatment cycles at Midland Fertility are made possible with eggs donated from altruistic donors. To see if you could be an egg donor or an egg sharer, complete the on-line egg donor check-list .
Egg donors are cared for by the usual team of clinical, scientific and administration staff at Midland Fertility, and also benefit from contact with the egg and embryo donation coordinator, Donna Rea-Gardner.
Who may become an egg donor?
Despite the shortage of donor eggs, donors may only be accepted if they meet the rigorous screening criteria, including:
- must be under 36 years old
- must be within a normal weight range – ie have a BMI of 22 to 25
- have hormone levels within the normal range
- have no personal or family history of inherited illness or abnormalities
- must be non-smokers
- free of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
- in addition, their eggs must be of sufficient quality to give the recipient the best chance of conceiving
Who receives donor eggs?
Potential recipients include women who require donor eggs to conceive because of reasons including:
- premature menopause
- infertility as a result of cancer treatment
- ovarian failure
- risk of passing on hereditary diseases, eg cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or fragile ‘X’ syndrome
What does donating eggs involve?
Following an initial consultation, treatment assessment, follow-up appointment, infection screening, matching and treatment planning appointment and possible counselling, an egg donor will begin the first of two types of drugs:
- daily injections or a nasal spray (usually naferelin or buserelin) to ‘down-regulate’ the woman’s usually monthly cycle to a temporary menopausal state in preparation for the stimulation phase of the cycle
- gonadotrophin drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs than occur in a natural cycle. These are given by daily injections
- the dose of stimulating drugs each donor needs is carefully calculated to optimise the number of egg-containing follicles
- the donor will need to attend the clinic for ultrasound scans during the stimulation phase to monitor the number and size of the growing follicles
- when the follicles have grown sufficiently she will be advised of the day of her egg collection (usually about two weeks after she first starts taking the fertility drugs)
- egg collection is performed with ultrasound guidance under conscious sedation and with pain relief
- a nurse – and a partner or friend – will be with the donor constantly throughout the procedure
- the collected eggs are washed and placed in labelled culture dishes before being put into an incubator ready for allocation to the recipient
- the donor will be able to leave the clinic about two hours after arrival and will need to be driven by someone else
- the donor will return to Midland Fertility about a week after egg collection to ensure that she is well
- Midland Fertility will contact the donor six months after the egg collection for a blood test to re-check her infection screen
Altruistic donors receive £750 as a ‘thank you’ for each complete donor cycle.
Midland Fertility matches, as closely as possible, the following characteristics of the donor and recipient:
- skin tone
- eye colour
- hair colour
- CMV status
Synchronising the recipient and donor
Once matched, the donor and recipient will be treated by different members of the clinical team. Both women begin their down regulation drugs around the same time. After two to three weeks the donor begins her fertility drugs to stimulate the development of egg follicles and the recipient begins HRT to help grow a suitable endometrium. The recipient then begins progesterone pessaries to prepare her uterus to receive the embryos. Following egg collection, fertilisation and embryo transfer, the recipient will know if she is pregnant within 14 days. The donor may be told after 12 months if a pregnancy was ever achieved using her donor eggs.
Identity of egg sharers
Both the egg donor and recipient remain anonymous to each other, although the recipient may receive some non-identifying information about the donor, such as a description of her physical characteristics and personal interests.
How long does treatment take?
Screening a donor and matching a recipient usually takes up to four weeks, although in exceptional circumstances may take longer. Following this, egg donation treatment takes an average of three to six weeks from the beginning of the treatment cycle to egg collection, depending on the drug protocol.
Go to the Midland Fertility Patient Treatment Information page and download the following infosheets:
- Altruistic Egg Donation
- Egg Sharing for Donors
- Egg Sharing for Recipients (soon to be renamed Receiving Donor Eggs)
- IVF: In Vitro Fertilisation
- Go to summary results for egg sharing and donation
- Go to receiving donor eggs information
- Go to National Gamete Donation Trust
- Go to Donor Conception Network