There’s a lot to consider when you’ve been diagnosed with infertility, and there’s a lot you never imagined you’d be considering. I still don't know whether it's a blessing or a curse that I've been “diagnosed" with unexplained infertility. It feels a bit like a crapshoot in terms of treatment—is it my uterus? No. Is it my ovarian reserve? Negative. Is it the quality of my frozen, AA quality embryos? Not so far. The mystery of it is hard to swallow, considering I’ve already conceived one kid naturally, with the blink of an eye (well, not only a blink). I know I should consider myself lucky that everything has checked out great so far. But even still, I’m constantly reminded by my RE and my OB that at my age “great” is only as good as my aging eggs. (They know just what to say to make a girl feel good.)
Thankfully I was able to produce a lot of eggs during my IVF cycle last year—all seemingly perfect under a microscope, but that doesn't tell us the entire story; more on that in another post. Many women my age aren’t as fortunate to produce even one good egg during an IVF cycle, and are often advised to use an egg donor—would you do it? I’m not sure what I’d do in this case, but there is an amazing new program, and it’s worth checking out if you’ve been told you have poor ovarian reserve or can’t produce viable eggs.
Donor Egg Bank USA is the nation’s only frozen donor egg bank—it’s a much more affordable option than using fresh donor eggs, and it has similar success rates. It just launched in March of this year.
Out of curiosity I went on the site, which allows you to search for potential donors. It’s like going on a match-making website looking for a mate: You select race, hair color, eye color, height and whether or not the donor has…well…prior experience. No membership required to run a search, but you have to log in if you want to see photos of donors.
Naturally I picked someone with brown eyes and brown hair—and someone who’s between 5’0” and 5’5”—but, to my surprise, I only got two returns (I also selected Caucasion). “We have 50 donors who have eggs frozen with Donor Egg Bank USA, with new donors being screened and selected each day,” a company spokesperson told me. “The number of donors on our website is a moving target as we always have donors going through donation cycles and banking eggs, as well as patients selecting them.” The website is updated in real time, so if the last set of eggs from a donor is selected by a patient, the donor will be removed from the website immediately. “We add new donors who have recently completed a donor egg cycle within a few days after they have undergone their retrieval,” she explained.
Donor Egg Bank USA was developed through a collaboration of more than 100 reproductive specialists throughout the country (my clinic included), in response to the growing need of a time- and cost-effective treatment for patients. Selecting frozen donor eggs versus fresh donor eggs is about half the cost (a fresh donor cycle can cost up to $38k). It also cuts down on the time: Eggs can be collected, frozen and banked, making them immediately available to patients who select them from a donor database (and, yes, donors go through extensive pre-screening that’s FDA approved).
The process for a fresh donor cycle can take 6-12 months because both women need to synchronize their menstrual cycles. The process for a frozen donor egg cycle? One to two months.
To help patients with the cost, Donor Egg Bank USA offers an Assured Refund Plan, which refunds patients 100% of the cost if they don’t deliver a live baby within six frozen donor egg treatment cycles. There’s a lot more to understand about this amazing program—check out their site, which explains it in much greater detail.
Would you consider using a donor egg, and if so would you do a frozen donor egg over a fresh donor egg? Or is this path to pregnancy too progressive for you?