Medical tourism is often the only chance for couples struggling with infertility. One of the most popular treatments is in vitro fertilisation using donor eggs. Across Europe, there are many clinics offering these programmes. Thanks to these treatments, many women have been able to fulfill their dream of getting pregnant and giving birth.
What is egg donation?
Egg donation involves using egg cells (oocytes) from a female donor in an assisted reproduction procedure. The first successful treatment was performed in 1983 by Monash IVF Clinic in Australia. Since then, egg cell donation procedures have advanced considerably and are now well-established:
- Across 17 EU countries, 11,892 IVF procedures were performed in 2006 using donor eggs, with 4,862 children born.
- In Poland, 348 IVF treatments were carried out with donor eggs in 2010. In 2011, it rose to 661.
- The number of female donors is increasing every year as well. In the UK, 451 women were egg donors in 1992, whereas over 1,250 women were donors in 2010.
The egg donation process
The egg donation process begins with female donors receiving hormonal treatment to stimulate egg cell growth. When the eggs have reached maturity, the egg cells are taken and then frozen either by slow freezing or vitrification. This allows the egg cells to be stored and used at the ideal time. After thawing, the egg cells are fertilised by in vitro using a male partner’s sperm. These fertilised eggs are newly-created embryos which are then placed in the uterine cavity of the future mother.
Who can benefit from egg donation?
Egg donation gives women back the chance to become mothers in many cases, including:
- inability to produce healthy egg cells (e.g. premature menopause, premature ovarian failure, ovary removal surgery)
- after multiple unsuccessful IVF attempts
- following cancer treatment
- avoiding hereditary genetic disorders
- women 45+ years old
- recurrent miscarriages
An example of how it works at InviMed fertility clinics
- a) Overview
After the donor and recipient are matched, the donor undergoes hormonal treatment to produce eggs. The procedure takes place under the supervision of experienced doctors at an InviMed fertility clinic, as well as the patient’s personal care coordinator. All patients have their own care coordinator for the whole period to answer questions, resolve any doubts and help with any practical issues. These steps are designed to ensure the safest and most comfortable treatment – which puts the patient first. What is more, the whole procedure requires only two visits to Poland. The waiting period for IVF with donor eggs in InviMed is short – from 1 to 3 months. The time depends on whether the cells are already available or whether they will need to be collected from the donor. In comparison, in England patients often need to wait up to a year because the demand for egg cells exceeds their availability. There is a minimum waiting period of one month when eggs are not selected from the donor bank because the donor must prepare her body for the procedure, taking low doses of hormone medicines before she can give her oocytes. The egg donation programme at InviMed provides up to 8 frozen egg cells which are then fertilised. 1 or 2 embryos may be used in the first IVF treatment.
- b) Donor and recipient anonymity
There are differences in data privacy among EU clinics. Patients should check this carefully because of the impact it can have. At InviMed, the personal data of both donors and recipients are fully anonymous. This data is handled in accordance with all legal and medical requirements.
- c) About egg donors
In order to guarantee the utmost safety, donors must undergo rigorous medical examinations and tests. There are international and EU guidelines which concern this. All InviMed donors are carefully screened to meet or exceed these standards.
InviMed donors must be healthy and proven fertility:
- without bacterial or viral diseases that may affect child or patient health,
- without genetic disorders,
- without mental disorders,
- not older than 32 years,
- who have at least one healthy child,
- with tertiary education normally completed.
Joining the IVF programme at InviMed provides 72-hour access to the egg donor database. Donors give detailed information concerning: eye and hair colour, height, education, interests, and even include childhood photographs. Knowing such precise data enables women to make the best decision and to increase the chances of a child inheriting specific, chosen features.
Article by InviMed – InviMed’s IVF egg donation programme is among the most successful in the world with pregnancy success rates of 55.5%. This is based on many completed procedures. If you would like to know more, visit www.eggdonation.invimed.co.uk