Egg Donation

A process by which eggs are provided by a woman for the purpose of fertility treatment of another woman or a couple. Egg Donors provide their eggs altruistically and have no parental rights or commitment.

Egg donation, which might also be known as ovarian egg donation, is an altruistic process in which a person will go through part of the IVF procedure and allow for their eggs to be collected. These eggs may then be donated for different purposes. Such purposes include providing genetic material for someone else’s treatment, fertility research, or training.

In many cases, someone providing their eggs for donation will be doing it in order to help someone they already know. This will normally be a close friend or family member who is unable to conceive using their own eggs for any particular reason. Because of this, this particular form of donation is also known as “known donation”.

As well as friends and family members making known donations, it is equally common for people to donate to a member of the public. In these cases, they will be helping someone they don’t know and have most likely never met to expand their family as they have always wanted to.

In order to donate eggs for an IVF treatment, you will normally have to be between the ages of 18 and 35. However, being older than this will not always disqualify you; the age limit may be overlooked in exceptional circumstances, such as when one family member is donating to another.

Other criteria which may prevent a donation from being made include:

  • Smoking
  • The patient having a BMI lower than 19 or higher than 30
  • The patient having a family history of hereditary diseases
  • The patient having hereditary medical conditions
  • The patient not attending scheduled meetings and appointments

Legally, the donation of eggs is similar to donating blood or sperm. Once a patient has made their donation and created embryos have been used in a treatment, they will have no legal rights to or responsibilities for the embryos or any children that are born as a result. The recipient of the egg (the person who will be pregnant) will be the legal parent of any baby or babies born as a result of egg donation in the IVF treatment process.

Donors will be required by law to give written consent to the use and storage of their donated eggs and any embryos that are produced from these. If a patient is making a private donation to someone they know and they only want this specific person to receive their eggs, this should also be stated on their consent form.

The law will also permit fertility centres and clinics to pay egg donors up to £750 per cycle of egg donation. This reimbursement will normally be used to cover travel expenses, or any childcare costs that may have incurred during the egg donation treatment on the day of egg collection. Other than this amount, it is illegal to pay for egg donation in the UK.

Potential donors will always have the option to change their mind, right up until just before the embryo transfer takes place. However, the information, selection, and counselling processes that should be offered and received before this time should be sufficiently thorough. As such, if a patient has any doubts they will always be able to withdraw their offer before it reaches this stage.

It should also be noted that donating eggs should not prevent a patient from getting pregnant in the future. The average ovarian reserve will have around 300,000 eggs available by the time a person has reached puberty, and only 300 to 400 of these will be used in that person’s lifetime. As such, it is perfectly possible for them to donate eggs that would otherwise never be used.