FAQs: Donor Egg Recipients

If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to call our fertility specialists at 314-286-2400.

What kinds of donors are available?

Known egg donors: These are individuals that the recipient might know, typically a close family member like a younger sister or cousin, on rare occasion a friend.

Anonymous egg donors: In this case the egg donor is anonymous to the recipient and has been recruited by a clinic or agency. The Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center has a pool of anonymous egg donors that are recruited locally.

What is the difference between fresh donor eggs and frozen donor eggs?

Fresh: This means that eggs are inseminated immediately after they are retrieved and fresh transfer of the resulting embryo(s) are planned.

Frozen: This means that the eggs have already been harvested from the donor and are frozen. It does not require donor’s and recipient’s cycles to be synchronized. The Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center has a partnership with MyEggBank to offer frozen eggs to patients.

Talk to your physician to better understand the difference between the two options.

How does Washington University Fertility and Reproductive medicine screen its donors?

We have a highly selective and comprehensive screening process. Prospective donors complete a detailed questionnaire that’s reviewed by our team. Those who meet specific criteria will be invited to complete the additional screening, which involves meetings with our coordinator, a reproductive endocrinologist, a psychologist and a certified genetic counselor.

The reproductive endocrinologist screens the donor from a medical perspective, while our psychologist screens the donor from the psychological perspective. Our board-certified genetic counselor will interview each egg donor and obtain a three-generation family history.  This process screens for genetic risk factors that may increase the risk for birth defects or hereditary conditions in children conceived using that donor. You may request a report of the findings and the family tree.

The prospective donor also undergoes a physical exam, cultures and blood test to rule out infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, gonorrhea and chlamydia. In addition, our donors are tested for their blood type and undergo genetic carrier screening.  The number of conditions for which a donor is screened depends on many factors including the donor’s ethnicity. All donors are screened for cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Expanded genetic carrier screening, which assesses for over 200 conditions, is also available if desired by the intended parent(s).  If a donor is a carrier for a genetic condition, the intended father may also need to have genetic carrier screening performed.

In most cases, donors become available only after their screening is complete and they are designated eligible according to all our guidelines. In recruiting and screening donors, we adhere to guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the U.S. Food and Drug administration and to our own institutional ethics board.

What are the benefits of using the Washington University Fertility Center’s in-house donor pool?

There are several benefits. Because of our comprehensive screening process, you’re unlikely to experience the disappointment of carefully choosing a donor from an agency only to find out they’re ineligible once they’re medically screened. You will work with just one center during the ovum donation process. Finally, using a donor from our pool is often less expensive than working with an agency because there are no extra agency fees.

What about choosing a donor from an outside agency?

We also work with many outside ovum donor agencies. Outside agencies recruit and partially screen donors. The agency then assists couples in identifying possible donor matches from within their pool. We’re happy to help coordinate a donor ovum cycle with a donor from an outside agency.

One benefit of using an outside agency is the overall larger pool to choose from and donor availability may be faster.

If you’re interested in using an outside donor agency, we will provide you with a list of local agencies. We recommend that you ask about their recruitment and screening policies and procedures directly. Donors from outside agencies must have a mental health screening arranged through the agency and must meet specific criteria for eligibility, such as recent infectious disease screening, to proceed with a cycle within our center. Once selected, the donor will be examined by our doctors in our office before cycle planning.

What should I look for in a donor?

To maximize the likelihood of success, we recommend a donor under age 35. Most egg donors are between the ages 21 and 32. Other factors that increase the chances of success are having previously carried a pregnancy to term, or having previously completed an ovum donor cycle with good results.

Other factors that many patients consider are physical characteristics, ethnic background, family medical history, educational background and personality characteristics. Our whole team can help you with any questions you have about the selection process.

Can I meet the donor?

No. The process is designed to remain completely anonymous.

What if I have a known donor I’d like to work with?

The first step is to discuss your known donor with your fertility specialist. He or she will help determine if this person is a good candidate. Known donors are usually younger than 35 years old, in good health and have a healthy family background.

What are the legal implications?

Your donor will sign a consent form in which she relinquishes all rights and responsibilities regarding her donated eggs. In Missouri, the woman who delivers the baby is the legal mother except in pre-arranged gestational carrier agreements. For women using egg donation to conceive, there’s no need to file any legal documents to establish the parentage of the child.

Laws regarding the use of donor eggs vary. We can provide legal assistance resources if desired.

Interested in being matched with an egg donor in our program?

Schedule a consultation with one of our specialists today. We’ll discuss the advantages of each of your options to help you decide which is right for you.