Sometimes the only hope of pregnancy for a woman is if she receives donated eggs. This may be because of primary ovarian failure (premature menopause), which can occur following surgery, chemotherapy or radiation or naturally as early as age 20. The hope that a donated egg provides to a woman in this situation is incalculable.
In other cases, a woman may still be producing eggs but because of inheritable genetic disorders, recurrent miscarriages or repeated unsuccessful IVF treatment, she is advised to use donor eggs.
Donors should be under the age of 36, preferably with confirmed fertility and no history of genetic disorders. All donors are thoroughly screened for transmissible diseases. Clinics will synchronize the recipient's cycle with that of the donor. The donor undergoes a similar stimulation protocol as the IVF cycle.
An egg donor may be a friend of relative of the recipient, or the donation may be anonymous. Implication counselling is required for both donors and recipients prior to commencing treatment.
From 1st April 2005, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) requires all gamete donors to provide identifying information. This information will enable the HFEA to inform a donor in the future of any enquiries made by a child that has been born following a donation when that child reaches the age of 18. The HFEA will not disclose any information without first contacting the donor. Gamete donors may, if they wish, include a pen-portrait of themselves as a person at the time of donation.
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