Selecting Your Egg Donor

Choosing a woman to donate her eggs is a big deal, and it's both exciting and overwhelming. Two ways to go about finding an egg donor are by asking someone that you already know or using an anonymous donor.

Some women ask a family member or close friend to donate their eggs. Family members may be highly regarded because they carry genes that are similar to yours. Friends are valued because you know and care for them, and they possess desirable traits that your baby may inherit.

Other women prefer to use anonymous donors. Some fertility clinics have egg donation programs, where women donate their eggs in exchange for money. Also, many fertility clinics encourage patients undergoing IVF to donate their leftover eggs to be used by another woman. By donating their leftover eggs, these patients generally receive a price break for their own IVF services. In either case, the fertility clinic will have information about the woman so that you will be able to read about her physical and intellectual characteristics. Another option is for you to place an ad in the newspaper and find a donor on your own.

Your doctor and fertility clinic will provide you with guidelines for selecting the best egg donor for you. In addition, here are some things for you to consider:

• How old is the donor? Ideally, egg donors should be between the ages of 21 and 34. The minimum of 21 is recommended because the donor must be of legal age, and also hopefully they are mature enough to understand the ramifications of egg donation. A maximum age of 34 is recommended because younger women typically respond better to ovulation induction by producing more high-quality embryos and consequently higher pregnancy rates than those older than 35. Also, women age 35 or older have a somewhat higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.

• Once you've narrowed it down, is additional information about your top picks available? Egg donation programs usually require that the donors complete a personal statement or questionnaire that highlights her education, hobbies, interests, and personal habits. It may also include her reason for wanting to donate her eggs and provide some insight into her personality.

• Once your child reaches legal age, is this donor open to contact from the child that was conceived using her egg? Of course, this is a very personal decision. You certainly don't have to decide if and how you will tell your child about his or her biological heritage at this point. However, it is helpful to find out right now whether contact with the biological mother is even an option at some time in the distant future. Some parents do not want any contact with the donor. However, others want their children to be able to locate the donor once they become adults.

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