Ask the expert recap: egg donor program

Submitted to Blog

We previously had Allison Margolies, Manager of the Egg Donor Program from ConceiveAbilities, participate in an Ask the Expert activity.

Allison not only spent over 15 years in the healthcare field; she also used an egg donor and surrogate to build her own family. As the Manager of the Egg Donor program, Allison oversees the Egg Donation Department including the egg donor intake process and prescreening and matching between egg donors and intended parents.

Q: What does an agency look for in an egg donor? In ConceiveAbilities' experience, what characteristics in an egg donor are most often sought after or requested by an Intended Parent? - @Kristina F.

AM:  Hi Kristina-That is a great question. Every agency is different but in terms of what ConceiveAbilities looks for I would say the following is most important

1. You don't smoke. The use of tobacco products has been repeatedly proven to damage the reproductive system, and to affect even unfertilized eggs. A woman has every right to do as she will with her body, but we cannot accept a smoker as an egg donor.

2. You're physically and mentally fit. While no one is perfect, an egg donor should be both physiologically and psychologically healthy. Additionally, a prospective egg donor and her immediate family must not have any severe health concerns.

3. You're of prime childbearing age. ConceiveAbilities accepts egg donors between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-nine.

4. You have a giving spirit. A woman makes a deeply personal gesture by donating her eggs. At ConceiveAbilities, we look for prospective donors with a great sense of generosity. Egg donors are compensated, but the procedure is not entirely without risk; a well-informed donor should be deeply interested in helping others, as a result.

5. You are ok with needles! Many women find that they enjoy the responsibility of being an egg donor, but that doesn't make it an easy path to follow. There are a few needles involved, including blood draws and self-administered medication. It isn't as bad as it sounds! That being said, there's no way around it if you're going to be an egg donor.

The requests for what intended parents are looking for are as different as the parents making those requests! The top request that I hear is that I want someone who “looks like me”. That means different things to different people but commonly, intended parents look for donors who have similar hair color, eye color and ethnic background to themselves. To accommodate this, we work hard to have donors of all different races, creeds and ethnic groups.

Q: What is the process for Intended Parents with egg donors? Do IPs get to choose their egg donor? - @Lisa L

AM: Intended Parents (IP) have complete access to Conceiveabilities curated egg donor database. IPs can look on their own for a donor and/or we can guide you by making suggestions based on the criteria you are looking for in an egg donor. Either way the answer to this question is YES!

Q: What does the timeline look like for an egg donor? I am not sure if this process only takes a few weeks, or does it take a few months? Thank you! - @Laci Compton

AM: Hi Laci-Great question. Once you select a donor the typical time frame is 2 to 3 months from start to finish.

Q: For someone who is considering becoming a surrogate but isn't quite ready yet, would being an egg donor be a good first step? - @Lisa L

AM: While being an egg donor and a surrogate is very different I do think for a person who wants to help someone else start a family but can't quite commitment to surrogacy, egg donation is a great first step!

Q:  Hi Allison, I have been a prior surrogate, which was wonderful in so many ways, but especially because I got to build a relationship with my Intended Parents. Does this also happen in egg donation? Do I ever get to meet or know that couple/person who chooses my eggs? If I choose, can I stay completely anonymous? Also, Is there a limit on how many times you can be an egg donor?

AM:  With egg donation the relationship between the donor itself and intended parents can vary. Typically, we see three types of donations.

Anonymous Donation-This is when the donor and the intended parents (IP) do not have any identifying information about each other. They will have no way of communicating.

Semi-Open Donation -In this case there is some information shared between the IP and the donor. For example, a letter using first names is passed between the two groups. This communication is done between a 3rd party such as a lawyer or an organization like the Donor Sibling Registry.

Open Donation-This is when the donor and the IP have each other’s personal contact information and communicate freely

The donation you decide to do as an egg donor is completely your choice and what you are comfortable with.

In terms of how many times you can donate, we at ConceiveAbilities follow The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines which has set the industry limitation at six cycles per egg donor. This is in a lifetime not per clinic.