Directed Egg Donors
While the majority of egg donors are anonymous, it is common, in some cases, for the recipient of the eggs to know the donor. When the egg donor is known by the intended parents, this is referred to as a “directed egg donor.” The directed donor could be a relative, blood relative, or even a friend. Whether the donor is directed or anonymous, all donors must pass the strict and comprehensive procedures involved with screening.
In some situations, for the recipient and spouse, it has been a long and emotional struggle as the couple has tried to complete their family. This could be the result of having poor quality of eggs, early menopause, a genetic disease, or complications with the ovaries. With the majority of the couples who require a donor’s eggs, this could be the only hope for becoming pregnant.
There are advantages and disadvantages with becoming a directed donor, but loved ones are usually honored and happy to take on the responsibility. Close to 10 percent of egg donors are directed, and with the majority of these cases, the donor is a blood relative. This increases the amount of biological characteristics that the recipient will share with her child. However, this could result in some forms of psychological distress later in life, with both the donor and recipient. For this reason, there is a greater emphasis on the psychological aspects during the screening process.
The donor and recipient couple both meet with a psychologist once they’ve been accepted into the program. The mental and emotional health of both parties is not only important throughout the entire process, but following the procedure as well. This helps address and clarify the emotional stress and frustration that could be experienced.
A directed donor will also go through a medical examination that includes a physical, blood being drawn, and cervical cultures. These things are done to verify that the donor meets all necessary medical criteria, and that she will not pass on any types of diseases or disorders.
Once the donor has met the psychological and medical criteria, she is now approved to begin the process of donating the eggs. This begins with hormone stimulation, which requires daily injections to stimulate the ovaries for the development of multiple egg-containing follicles.
Throughout this entire process, the donor is regularly monitored with blood tests and ultrasound examinations. The blood tests are used to determine the donor’s response to the different medications, and the ultrasounds monitor the growth and development of the eggs.
When the time comes for the eggs to be retrieved, the entire procedure is relatively of short timing. While the donor is sedated, a physician will use an ultrasound probe to guide a specialized needle used to retrieve the eggs. This procedure can take approximately 30 minutes with an additional 1 to 2 hours of recovery time.
For a directed donor, the experience does not always end once the eggs are retrieved. She may also be around during the pregnancy, as well as while the child grows up. Some egg recipients find comfort in knowing the biological mother, but this can lead to difficulty with the donor.
It is often recommended for donors and recipients to seek counseling in order to address any feelings of anxiety, depression, despair, or frustration. This can help strengthen the skills that are necessary to cope, and help develop strategies to deal with difficult times.