The “Emotional” Questions encountered with Egg Donation
Questions around the emotional issues of egg donation are very often not discussed, but are very much felt by those seeking egg donation. Our view is that these are very real issues and we hope that the information that follows will help you in this decision. Please also refer to our LINKS page for more information on the global world of egg donation.
Inset: Tami Sussman, is personally available to meet with local recipients, in the important decision of selecting the ideal egg donor.
How do I come to terms with needing donor eggs in order to conceive?
It is true that you will struggle with this question and its possible see-sawing and very emotional answers many times before and during an egg donation process. There will be times when you will most likely look at the positive, that at least conception and pregnancy is a possibility for you via egg donation. It is not the end of the world. Then there will be times when your heart will ache at the thought of never seeing your DNA created in a child and that you have been robbed of that possibility. In the end only you can find a way to process the loss and to look forward to this possible “second chance” at having a baby. Those egg donor recipients that have had one baby via egg donation and return for a second or third child will tell you of the absolute love, devotion and bond that they have with their child and how much they appreciate motherhood after all the heartache. They will also tell you that they could not love their child more, even if he/she had been conceived of her own egg.
The renewed hope and excitement comes once you decide to move forward and go ahead with creating your family.
Mothers who have birthed their children following egg donation will tell you how much “where the eggs came from” doesn’t matter once you see your baby’s heart beat, carry him/her for 9 months…and in that moment when you give birth and hold your baby in your arms…the joy is overwhelming and would be no greater where your eggs part of the conception. Unfortunately, you have to go through it to know that fact and understand the hindsight of egg donation and the ambivalence that many mothers of egg donation have once they have conceived.
When you are struggling with the concept of egg donation and grieving after your own DNA, it seems that motherhood will never be yours. Hundreds of mothers via egg donation, surrogacy and adoption will however tell you that motherhood is about a love so deep it hurts, a connection comparable to no other… its about protecting your child to the death, about putting yourself nowhere in order to put your child first…its about so much more than an egg which is 100 micrometers, roughly the size of this full-stop.
The pregnant mothers body is responsible for the growth of the fetus. The fetus takes its required fluids and “food” compounds from the mothers blood via the placenta for the 40 or so weeks of its development. Its is the mothers flesh and blood that results in the baby’s flesh and blood. She is the childs biological mothers and the child is her biological son or daughter.
Legally a donor egg baby is the legal child of the birth mother.
In total, about 100 000 babies conceived with donor eggs have been born in the US since 1984. By 2004, donor eggs were used in 12% of all fertility treatments, and over 8 300 babies were born from donor eggs that year alone. Verified South African statistics are unfortunately not available.
For some intended parents the answer to this question is decided long before the egg donation procedure even commences. It is based on a peaceful preference for you and your partner. If you have not decided on whether or not to make your potential child’s conception details public or not, consider this advice from an egg recipient mother. She suggested that before you decide whether or not to make your child’s conception known… give birth to your child and then make a decision. Often once you settle into motherhood, the answer to this question becomes clearer for you.
The “Donor Choice” Questions encountered with Egg Donation
Questions around the donor and how to choose a donor are important to review and are amongst the many questions that potential parents have.
Donors are initially pre-screened to ensure they meet the Donor Criteria of our program and the South African laws on gamete donation.
They are then asked to fill out an extensive and detailed Donor Profile, which includes their personal and social history as well as their and their immediate families medical and health history.
We verify her physical attributes and to get to know her as a person and not just a donor.
Once a donor is chosen and contracted, the medical clinic proceeds with psychological and medical evaluations and blood tests.
There are two broad factors to consider in choosing an egg donor. Firstly the age of the donor will indicate the age of her eggs. Statistically, women in their mid-20s are considered ideal candidates for egg donation. The law in South Africa allows for egg donors between the ages of 18 and 35. Gift ov life accepts donor candidates who are between 21 and 32 years old.
The reality is that there is no such thing as a donor that will match you 100% You are you! What you can do is look for ethnic origin, eye colour, hair colour and hair type, height, body type, personality similarities and intelligence similarities.
The reality, as one donor recipient mom said, “I have a girlfriend whose three daughters all have looks and personalities different to each other and none like their biological mother or father! We will get what we are given!”
After all the analysis, go with a donor choice that feels right and peaceful for you.
Please go to our LINKS page for a very helpful site in choosing the eye colour of your donor.
A proven donor means that the donor has donated before. It is therefore possible to say that she is fertile. Remember however that all donors, whether proven or not, undergo medical pelvic and scan procedures to determine the presence of ovaries, eggs and to track how the eggs mature under hormone treatment.
Since most fertility clinics transfer only two embryos or one embryo in an IVF cycle, it is not necessary to have a large number of embryos to achieve a healthy pregnancy. This is particularly true if the egg donor is younger (e.g. under 32) Nevertheless, when there are many embryos from one egg retrieval, the recipient is more likely to have extra embryos to freeze for future use. Having at least 6-8 fertilised eggs is certainly desirable, and frequently there are more than this. The reality…you only need one good egg that fertilises and grows!
The “genetic or learned” debate is often a question that comes to the fore when potential parents are analysing the egg donation route to conception. The reason it is still a debate after centuries is exactly that…we don’t have an indisputable answer. In terms of factors which are often determined by genetics we provide the detailed Donor profiles in order to try and match some of these traits e.g.: eye colour and height. As regards learned traits…well you will teach you children what you know….how you do it…say it…play it…taste it and everything else little ones learn from their parents!
The answer is yes, in most cases. Most of our donors are prepared to travel and most clinics work with traveling donors. You will however be liable to pay for donor travel, allowance and accommodation costs.
Leading South African fertility clinics quote success rates (per embryo transfer) of between 55% and 65%. The cumulative pregnancy rate of patients after 3 cycles of egg donation reaches *92%. The miscarriage rate is *15%. This contrasts with miscarriage rates of more than *50% in women conceiving with their own eggs, older than 42yrs, should they be fortunate enough to do so. This is compared to recipients aged 37 to 40 at 33%, and recipients aged 40 to 42 at 20%.
* Pregnancy success rates vary depending on individual circumstances and expected success rates should be discussed with your clinic specialist.
Genes are expressed within a given child depending on the environment and its effects. The environment is the pregnancy woman’s womb and its is her genes, and not the egg donor’s, that will determine how the genes received from the egg donor, are expressed. The child born would have been emotionally and physically different had the child been carried to term by the egg donor.
Babies via egg donation & the importance of the birth mother
Epigenetics is a new (well to some of us!) buzzword in the field of egg donation for conception. Essentially Epigenetics refers to factors outside the gene, such as a cell’s exposure to hormones or genetic variations that can modify a gene. Such factors can change what is ultimately expressed; they can change a phenotype i.e.: they can alter what an organism looks like as a consequence of the interaction of its gene AND the environment. In terms of conception via egg donation that environment begins with the womb of the birth mother. Some examples include hormone and reproductive factors in a woman that may influence the chances of breast and ovarian cancer. These factors are believed to be linked to a woman’s exposure to estrogen and progesterone and their effects on cell differentiation in the breast that occur during pregnancy.
Conventional science has historically linked cell behaviour to the genes present. Latest research suggests however that cells send out signals unique to an individual that I turn receives signals from the outside. This is specifically interesting for birth mothers where it appears our identities may be formed in the womb, linked to an exterior field of energy.
World Epigenetics studies are now focusing on how donor conceived babies DNA may actually be expressed based on the woman who carries that baby. The study of Epigenetics reveals that our lives are more than the sum of our inherited genes. During growth in the womb and after birth differences begin to reveal themselves due to specific genes being active in some people and non-active I others. There are a number of reasons for certain genes to be active and others not including the way the hosts body functions, lifestyle and how we think and feel – our emotions and reactions. The world of babies conceived via egg donation it’s the woman carrying the baby at the conception of life that starts the process of which genes are active and non-active. The birth mother helps shape the baby she carries from the moment that embryo is implanted in her uterus.
Research determines that the female egg accounts for 25% of the final outcome of a child.
We wish you all the best and are here to support you and answer any additional questions which you may have as regards becoming a parent via egg donation.