This programme offers hope to a large number of women who previously would never become pregnant. Such women include:
- Women who have a uterus but whose ovaries do not produce eggs due to premature menopause (affects 1-2% women before the age of 40)
- Women who have their ovaries removed as a treatment for cancer, pelvic infection or endometriosis
- Women whose ovaries are damaged by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Women who were born without functioning ovaries (Turner’s syndrome).
- Women whose ovaries are resistant to stimulation by fertility drugs and women who had poor ovarian response to hormonal stimulation.
- Women with recurrent IVF failures linked to poor egg quality and those whose apparently normal eggs failed to fertilize repeatedly.
- Women with high risk of passing genetic disorders to their off-springs e.g presence of sex-linked diseases like haemophilia, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s chorea. Couples with recurrent pregnancy loss due to chromosomal abnormalities.
At St. Augustine Medical Centre & Assisted Reproduction Technology Unit, Edo State, we take time to make both the donor and the recipient couples to be aware of the psychological, moral and legal implications of egg donation and ensure that they are also adequately counselled and screened. Screening includes HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis, Genetic diseases like sickle cell, blood group and Rhesus status. Physical characteristics are also taken into consideration.
Selection criteria for egg donors
- Egg donor may be or may not be known to the recipient couples
- Healthy, between the ages of 18 and 30 years with no known history of mental disorders.
- No family history of genetic or inheritable diseases.
- Preferably, should have had healthy children of their own.
Women who have produced a large number of oocytes for an ART procedure may be asked if they are willing to donate unused oocytes. In egg donation, the donor must be ready to renounce all rights to the donated eggs.
The donated eggs are fertilized with sperm from the recipient’s partner. Following fertilization, the embryos are then transferred into the uterus of the recipient. Alternatively, the option of freezing and quarantining embryos derived from donor egg for six months, with the use of the embryos after retesting the donor may be considered. When this is chosen the possibility of lower success rate should be discussed with the couple. The donor undergoes a similar stimulation protocol for an IVF cycle with egg collection performed vaginally.
In this program, infertile couples that cannot afford the cost of IVF treatment have their treatment paid by an egg recipient couple. The egg sharer couple must be fit, healthy and under the age of 30 . The potential egg sharing donors are carefully assessed and screened for infectious and genetic diseases like we do for altruistic egg donors. The egg sharer donor undergoes stimulation protocol for IVF, after the eggs are collected, they are shared between the donor and recipient couples. The donated eggs are then inseminated with sperm from the recipient’s partner while the other eggs will be inseminated with sperm from the donor’s partner. Each couple will have their embryos transferred. This program may sometimes be the only source of hope for the older women. However, since it involves a third party, we usually recommend a trial of Assisted Hatching except in cases where there is no response to hormonal stimulation or when fertilization fails to occur.