What Does Egg Donation Involve?

Egg Donation: The Medical Protocol

The donor will undergo a number of evaluations, including ultrasound examinations, in order to monitor development of eggs on the ovary, and blood tests to check estrogen levels.  The ultrasound is a vaginal ultrasound where a small ultrasound probe goes inside the vagina to view the ovaries.  The egg donation cycle begins with a single injection of Depot Lupron, which induces a period approximately seven days later.  On the second day of the donor's menstrual cycle, she will come in for another
ultrasound examination and will start medications called Gonal/F, Pergonal or Metrodin.  Injected into the hip, these medications stimulate the ovary directly to produce multiple eggs.  These medications can cause swelling of the abdomen and cysts on the ovaries; such side effects are temporary and quickly go away when medication use ends.  After four to five days of such injections, the donor returns for an ultrasound and blood testing.  This allows medication dosage to be altered to ensure proper ovary stimulation.

Medication is continued for two additional days and the donor again undergoes an ultrasound and blood test.  Following this, the donor returns daily for a period of two to three more days.  When the ultrasound and blood tests indicate that eggs have matured on the ovaries, an injection called HCG will be administered and, about 36 hours later, recovery of the eggs will be performed.  The donor undergoes an outpatient procedure in which eggs are removed from her ovaries; the microscopic eggs are sucked through a long needle into a test tube and inseminated with sperm from the recipient's husband (or donor) in preparation for implantation.  The donor remains in the hospital for several hours.  Recovery from the procedure is
at most one to two days.

Clearly, this is an involved and invasive procedure with documented risks and long-term hazards.  While sperm donation is relatively risk-free, egg donors must endure the side effects of altered hormone levels and surgery.  What kind of compensation does this type of procedure justify?  Is it fair to place a young, fertile donor at risk for the benefit of an older, infertile woman?

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