Many Intended Parents who want children find it difficult or impossible because of problems related to their eggs. Egg donation permits women without ovaries or whose ovaries do not produce healthy eggs, to become pregnant using donated eggs. Egg donation also permits single men to become fathers, generally without the legal constrictions required by adoption. In either situation, the donation can be made to the Intended Mother or to a Gestational Carrier.
Not all women can donate eggs. Donor programs vary by the protocol set by the IVF Clinics they work with. Some criteria are standardized throughout the industry for legal or health reasons. One example might be that donor candidates who have a family history of genetic diseases will not be permitted to participate. Other criteria are designed to increase the chance that a pregnancy will result and that the process will be safe for both donor and recipient. An example of this aspect of a donor program may be the limitation of donor candidates to narrow age thresholds, say 19 to 28 years of age.
Typically the donor program staff will match the Intended Parent with the Egg Donor who most closely resembles the IP's family, including ethnicity, height, body type, skin coloring, eye color, and hair color and texture. Once a possible match has been found, the IP is given the candidate's dossier to decide whether to proceed or wait for another potential match.
Some donation programs will deliver IP's with additional information about donor candidates by having the donor take intelligence test(s) or to provide other information (essays, childhood photos, school transcripts, lists of hobbies, etc.) to be given to IPs. Other programs will not provide this type of information because it implies, without good evidence, that these characteristics are largely determined by genetics.
A doctor will obtain the ED's informed consent before treating her. But an informed consent is more than a form to be signed. It is the process of helping the ED fully understand and agree to the medical procedures she will undergo. The doctor will meet with the ED and answer all her questions. The doctor or clinic staff will collect medical information to be sure that she is healthy enough for the procedure and to be sure that the eggs will not transmit disease to genetic anomaly to the recipient or the fetus.
Before giving consent for the procedures involved in egg donation, the ED will be instructed about:
* What activities are involved in each procedure.
* If each procedure is:
1. generally accepted as effective and safe by fertility specialists (although thorough research may or may not have been conducted); or
2. new and innovative and not generally accepted among fertility specialists.
* How much experience the program has with each procedure, including the level of training of the professional staff.
* The risks of all medications and procedures, and what will and can be done if complications occur.
An ED can always change her mind. She will not be forced to undergo medical procedures against her will. In addition, all programs acknowledge that a donor may withdraw her consent to participate at any time before retrieval of the eggs.
There are no firm rules about how many times a woman can donate her eggs, but there are several reasons why a program may limit repeat donations. For one thing, there are still unanswered questions about the possible long-term impact on a woman's health and fertility. Because of this, programs are often reluctant to expose a healthy woman to the process more than five times.
In addition, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that "it would seem prudent to consider limiting the number of stimulated cycles for a given donor to approximately 6 donations from a single donor to no more than 25 families per population area of 800,000, given concerns regarding inadvertent consanguinity." This limitation is necessary because all children from a single donor will be genetic half-siblings. There is a small chance that these half-siblings might meet later in life, unaware of their genetic connection to each other and the potential health concerns their potential offspring would have to face.