On Fertility Help Hub today, we hear from our partner fertility clinic, Harley Street Fertility Clinic (HSFC), about their egg-sharing programme, which allows two separate groups of women to provide fertility help to one another, reducing costs and helping those trying to conceive achieve their dream of a much-wanted baby.
When thinking about starting a family, all women are of course hopeful that their fertility treatment / IVF will work first time, using their own eggs. However, for various reasons (endometriosis, age, pre-menopausal etc), this is not always possible, and some people are advised to try and conceive using donor eggs. Other women might have healthy eggs and, although eager to embark on a fertility journey with a private fertility clinic, are concerned about the financial implications of the procedure.
To support our patients, we have an egg-sharing programme, which is designed to benefit two groups of women simultaneously:
Those having IVF – The egg sharer or egg donor
Those who wish to use donor eggs – The recipient
The egg sharing arrangement allows these two groups of women to help one another – the egg sharer (donor) receive free IVF treatment, and recipients receive the eggs they need for IVF. Hence, if someone decides to take part in our innovative egg-sharing programme, as a donor or a recipient, you will be helping someone else to become a mum.
Potential egg-share donors must meet a few criteria such as:
Age – between 18 and 35
Fit and healthy – a BMI between 20 and 30
A good ovarian reserve
A normal baseline FSH Level – less than 10 IU/L
Both ovaries in place
No history of severe Endometriosis or severe Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
No previous occurrence of poor ovarian response to stimulation (in IVF)
No history of infectious diseases
No personal or family history of inheritable diseases
As with all of our patients, our fertility specialist team will perform a thorough assessment of your fertility, before considering any form of treatment. This will include ultrasound scans and hormone blood tests for the woman, as well as a semen analysis and possible further testing for the man. The fertility t
ests and scans are particularly important for a potential egg-sharer because they will be donating half of the eggs collected and, hence, the fertility treatment choice must be in their best interest.
The egg-sharer will be offered a session of implications counselling, with an accredited fertility counsellor, to discuss the social and ethical issues pertaining to egg donation. The patient will then be screened for various diseases, which will be done via a simple blood test.
Danielle is a 29-year-old woman who had given up all hope of having another child, until she explored egg-sharing at Harley Street Fertility Clinic. Her Fallopian tubes had been damaged after giving birth to her first child, Tia.
“I had almost given up hope of having any more children before I had my fertility treatment at HSFC… I love being a mother and desperately wanted Tia to have a brother or sister, but after four heart-breaking miscarriages, I honestly believed that I would never have any more children.”
Danielle’s friend Emma had donated her eggs and she urged her not to give up, suggesting the egg-share option, due to it being financially viable, as well as helping somebody who was also experiencing fertility issues.
“After my second attempt at IVF, I discovered I was pregnant with twins,” says Danielle. The woman Danielle donated her eggs to was also pregnant!
Danielle praises the staff at HSFC; “I honestly cannot say thank you to the staff and doctors at the Harley Street Fertility Clinic enough. For a long time, I thought I was a broken woman and they’ve given me back my pride.”
Typically, egg donors and recipients are matched for ethnicity, and physical characteristics such as eye-colour, hair-colour, skin-colour, height and build, following the fertility regulator’s (HFEA) guidelines regarding a donor’s cytomegalovirus virus (CMV) status matching with that of the recipient. We attempt to match egg donors and recipients as rapidly as possible but this process can take some time – typically donors are matched within three months but can take longer in certain cases.