Choosing an Egg Donor
Choosing an egg donor at a glance
- When choosing an egg donor, there are two main considerations:
- What characteristics are important in the egg donor.
- Determining if it will be an anonymous or known donor.
- All egg donors go through a health and mental screening.
- The fees necessary to retrieve eggs from the donor are covered by the recipient woman or couple.
How to choose an egg donor
If a woman’s own eggs cannot be used, and egg donation is an option, the choice of the egg donor becomes an important, and stressful, step in assisted reproduction. There are two main considerations:
1. The characteristics desired in an egg donor, such as physical characteristics, ethnic, racial, or religious background.
2. The relationship to the egg donor—will it be anonymous or someone known to the woman or couple.
- Anonymous donor: The most common choice is that the donor’s identity remains anonymous throughout the whole donor process. Anonymous egg donors are usually provided by the reproductive clinic.
- Shared anonymous donor: When a reproductive clinic has had previous success with an anonymous donor, sometimes that donor’s eggs will not all have been used. If those eggs are of good quality, they could be used for a second recipient. This gives each recipient good chances of pregnancy success and allows each recipient couple to bear a portion of the financial responsibility of donation costs.
- Known donor: Some couples prefer to use someone genetically close to them: a sister, cousin, or perhaps a donor emotionally close, like a lifelong friend. Some recipients will recruit their own egg donor because they are looking for a specific, uncommon requirement or characteristic.
- Split egg donor: Women who are undergoing an assisted reproductive cycle may be willing to share their own healthy eggs with other recipients within the clinic. This is called a split egg donor. Reproductive clinics help match these opportunities because of the lack of insurance coverage or financial resources to pay for IVF. In this way, both women have an equal chance of success in achieving a pregnancy.
Egg donor screening
All egg donors, known or anonymous, must be screened in these ways:
- Physical examination
- Medical and social history
- History of birth defects or hereditary diseases
- Testing for sexually transmitted diseases
- Psychological screening
Egg donor compensation
The fee for a first time egg donor could be in the range of $4,000 to $6,000 or higher. The donor’s fees are covered by the intended family. Insurance does not include donor fees. Donor fees may vary from clinic to clinic and may also depend upon the past success of a given donor’s eggs. Egg donation is expensive because selection, screening, and treatment of donors add costs to IVF.
A study of donors conducted at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey found that money was not the primary motive for egg donation. The study reported that the first reward was helping others achieve their dreams. Compensation was cited as the second reason, followed by “feeling good” about themselves
The relatively high live birth rate for egg donation, approximately 50 percent nationally, provides many couples with their best chance for success. Overall, donor eggs are used in nearly 10 percent of all assisted reproductive cycles in the United States, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.