One of the most precious and gracious gifts one woman can give to another is the gift of life. Many women are unable to conceive a child using their own eggs. Most of them have learned this only after undergoing numerous and sometimes years of infertility treatments.
The ART Fertility Program of Alabama offers an Egg Recipient/Donation Program that is designed to allow a woman with healthy eggs to donate some of her eggs to an infertile couple who might otherwise be unable to have a family.
The first egg donor pregnancy occurred worldwide in 1984. The first baby born through egg donation at the ART Fertility Program of Alabama was in 1994 under the guidance of Dr. Virginia Houserman. Over the past twenty years, egg donation has become a highly successful option for infertile couples. Since then, over 100,000 babies have been born in the U.S. as a result of donor eggs. Experience and studies have shown that offspring of donor eggs are generally healthy children with no greater risk of birth defect than all children in the general population.
The criteria for egg donation are understandably strict. In order to donate, a woman must be between the ages of 19 and 32. She must have two normal ovaries and regular menstrual cycles. She must not smoke or use other drugs. She must be a reasonable body weight. The donor must be comfortable with injections, as the ovulation medications are given by injection. The donor must agree to physical and psychological screening provided at no cost to her. It takes a very special person to be an egg donor. Not only does she need to be a certain age and healthy, she needs to be responsible and dependable. It is critical for an egg donor to make all her appointments and take medications accurately.
Donors are admitted into the donor pool based on their evaluations/screening results. Once in the pool, donors wait to be selected by a recipient couple. The length of time between admission into the pool and an egg donation depends on the donor’s characteristics and the type of donor the recipient couple is searching for.
The recipients of donated eggs are married couples with little or no chance of having their own child. The most common reason a couple seeks an egg donor is because the woman’s ovaries have stopped producing eggs too soon. She may have had her ovaries removed as a result of disease like endometriosis, cancer, benign tumors or pain. The recipient woman may carry a genetic trait that she does not want to risk passing on to a child.