WHAT IS EGG DONATION?
Egg donation is the process by which a woman (an egg donor) donates her ova (eggs) to another individual or couple for the purpose of helping them conceive a child. There are two types of donors: unknown and known donors. Eggs are extracted via a vaginal procedure from the ovaries of the donor during a simple, ultrasound-guided, outpatient procedure. The procedure is performed under sedation.
WHY SHOULD AN EGG DONOR WORK WITH A JEWISH BLESSING?
We at A Jewish Blessing are here to guide and support you through your entire donation experience and even before; we are deeply committed to helping, not only the Jewish families that come to us for help, but also to helping you make the best possible decision for yourself as you try to decide if this Mitzvah is one that feels right for you. We recognize that this is a very important and complex decision; we encourage you to take all the time you need to carefully contemplate whether this is truly for you and to speak with us if you need guidance, information or our feedback as you try to make this decision. Again, our goal is only to help you come to the best possible decision for yourself. Although the financial rewards can seem significant we strongly believe that this should never be the main factor that sways you to give this gift. Rather it should be given because this act of kindness and the fact that you can potentially change a family’s life will be deeply meaningful to you as you move through your life. We strongly encourage you NOT to apply until you feel certain that your decision is the right one for you. A candidate who applies before she is really sure about her decision can ultimately bring incredible emotional devastation to an Intended family who has asked to be matched with her (if she suddenly has a change of heart once matched). Once you are matched with an Intended family the nurses at A Jewish Blessing will oversee, supervise and coordinate the process and we will be here for you every step of the way. You will never feel unsupported or alone as you move through this process with us.
We are incredibly grateful that we are here to help Jewish Intended families all over the world. Our dedication and commitment to these families optimizes your opportunity to be selected by a family who you will feel really great about giving this gift to.
More than anything, we are incredibly grateful to you for your desire to help.
WHO CAN DONATE EGGS? - EGG DONOR REQUIREMENTS
If you are a mature, responsible, healthy woman of proportionate height and weight (with a BMI under 30) who is between the ages of 20-32 and of Jewish ancestry (either maternal or paternal side or both) then you may be a good candidate for egg donation. If you have the desire to help out a family in this extraordinary way by performing this incredible Mitzvah (and have carefully considered the potential medical and psychological effects associated with egg donation) then thank you for taking the time to fill out the pre-qualifying donor application which you can find here
Once your pre-qualifying application has been approved you will be asked to complete the full application. The application will ask you to provide a detailed health history of your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins and we will provide you with some very helpful suggestions for completing the form. Upon receipt of your completed application your information will be reviewed in detail by a reproductive endocrinology nurse, a geneticist and a physician and you will be contacted.
Once matched with a family you will be further screened to determine if you are likely to be a good candidate (one who can produce enough healthy eggs for a successful donation cycle and whose cycle, ideally, results in a pregnancy for the family).
CAN I DONATE MY EGGS IF I AM ON BIRTH CONTROL/ MY TUBES ARE TIED?
You can apply to become an egg donor even if you are on the birth control pill, Nuvaring or the patch. You may be asked to stop taking your contraceptive for a short period of time in order to allow for hormonal testing to be done before you can start the egg donation cycle. If you are taking Depo Provera, you will need to stop this method of birth control in order to become an egg donor. You can also donate if you have had a tubal ligation; the aspiration of your eggs occurs before the eggs are released by your ovaries. Therefore, it is irrelevant if your tubes are tied or even if you only have one tube. You can also donate if you have a non-hormone producing IUD and many clinics are now accepting egg donor candidates with hormonal IUD's. In the event that you have a hormone producing IUD and if the fertility clinic requests, it may need to be removed prior to a donation cycle (but not prior to submitting your application).
CAN I DONATE MY EGGS EVEN WHILE I AM A FULL TIME STUDENT? Yes. Many of our donors are full time students. We will be more than happy to match you so that a donation cycle can be completed during one of your school breaks. However, your pretesting would need to be initiated before your break (and will require several Dr’s visits) but as much as possible will be coordinated to be done as close as possible to your school; pretesting will also very likely require one overnight trip to the IVF clinic that is working with your Intended family. Attempts will be made to have this visit occur on a day that would best suit your scheduling needs.
WILL I HAVE TO TRAVEL, AND FOR HOW LONG?
In the event that the clinic chosen by the intended parents is in a different city than you live in then you would be asked to travel. However, in the event that your life does not lend itself to traveling then please let us know; a donor can be matched with a family who is willing to travel to an IVF center near her for the cycle. Your inability to travel need not stop you from offering this gift to a family. If you are able to travel (which will optimize your chance of being matched), then you will likely travel on 2 separate occasions; once for a one-day screening appointment during the testing phase and then again for a minimum of 6 days but, generally, not more than 10 days at the time of the actual donation. The length of time that you will need to be away will be dependent on how fast your ovaries respond to the stimulating medications (and, therefore, cannot be exactly predicted). However, your travel will be planned in collaboration with you and will take into account your scheduling needs and preferences.
A Jewish Blessing will arrange all travel and hotel accommodations for you. You will be allowed to invite a friend/companion for the time of the retrieval and we will arrange for this as well. In the event that you have no one who is available to travel with you to be there on your retrieval day then we will make sure that you are not alone.
For donors traveling from outside of the United States, you will be required to travel for a period of around 3 weeks. All flight arrangements will be made after consulting with you in order to take into fullest consideration your previous engagements. We will speak with you further about companion travel which is handled somewhat differently for our International donors.
WHO WILL PAY FOR MY TRAVEL/MEDICAL BILLS?
A Jewish Blessing pays, on behalf of the intended parents, all of the expenses reasonably and necessarily incurred as part of the egg donation process. This will include flights for you and your (USA or Canada based) companion, accommodations, shuttles/cabs to and from the IVF center or rental car as needed, a daily food stipend while traveling, a donor insurance policy, all pretesting and medical care related to the donation cycle, an attorney who will explain all the legal issues involved and more.
IS THE DONATION AN ANONYMOUS PROCESS?
The majority of egg donation cycles are arranged as unknown donations, where both your identity as well as the intended parent’s identity is not openly shared. However, with the advent of social media and technological advances it has become more and more challenging to "promise" that a donor's identity will remain “Anonymous”. This being said, if your hope is to donate and to remain unknown we will do everything in our power to try to help ensure that this is the case (ie by making sure that your contract with the family clearly states the boundaries of the relationship).
Occasionally, intended parents want to have some form of contact with their donor. They may request contact which is limited to emails or phone calls, or may request a Skype meeting with their donor. If a family is requesting a “known” donor cycle then it will be your choice to participate if you feel comfortable with this option.
IS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE PERMITTED DURING THE CYCLE?
The physician will advise you NOT to have intercourse throughout the cycle because of risk of getting pregnant or of injuring your ovaries; the doctor will give you exact instructions. Please make sure to speak with the physician about specific guidelines. You can expect that this will involve abstaining from intercourse for a period of several weeks.
WHAT DOES THE MATCHING PROCESS INVOLVE?
Prospective Intended Parents begin to view egg donor profiles in order to help them find their donor. A Jewish Blessing works one on one with each family to help match them with the special woman who will hopefully help them achieve their dream of becoming parents. This process will include sharing pictures of the donor (if the family chooses to view photos), sharing family history, medical history, educational history and a variety of other information such as Jewish family history.
The process of choosing a donor can take a family several months or even years, depending on many different factors, including a family’s emotional readiness to move forward and their success in finding that special woman who is intended to bring this gift to them. This decision is critically important to prospective parents and as you might imagine is often a very emotional process. Couples often look for an egg donor who has similar physical and personality qualities to the woman in need of donor eggs.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE UNTIL I AM MATCHED WITH AN INTENDED FAMILY?
The length of time until you are matched with a prospective intended family (once you have been accepted into the program) can be days, months and even longer because, as we see it, there is actually one special family out there who your gift is meant to go to……and your match will depend on when they come along. Your match time has nothing to do with how wonderful you are. We already know that you are wonderful because of your desire to help another family in such an extraordinarily generous way; your gift will be given when the time is right.
ONCE I GET SELECTED, HOW LONG IS THE PROCESS BEFORE MY EGG RETRIEVAL?
Once matched with an intended family the screening process will take approximately 2-4 months. The length of time from your match to retrieval can vary depending on the clinic where the procedure will be done. Once you are selected as a family’s donor you will begin the testing process in order to make sure that you are free of genetic disease or of any other issue which would potentially cause a problem. Your screening process will include screening for Genetic diseases, hormonal blood tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STD screening), drug/nicotine testing, a vaginal ultrasound (so that your ovaries can be well visualized), a physical exam, a meeting with a psychologist and, often, a phone call with a genetic counselor. You will also have an introductory appointment with the physician and nurses associated with the Intended Parent’s clinic. The screening process generally involves 2-3 doctor visits. Once the screening and testing process is complete, a contract will be signed between you and the intended parents and a calendar will be created that will map out your medication portion of the cycle.
An egg donation cycle is not given the green light to begin until all medical, psycho-social, and legal documents are approved.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE ANY MEDICATION, AND DOES IT HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Initially you will be put on birth control pills or a vaginal contraceptive ring; following this you will begin a combination of injectable hormone medications (using, mostly, very tiny needles) for approximately 2 weeks. These hormones help the ovaries to produce a greater number of mature eggs than you would produce in a natural cycle and allow the doctor to harvest several eggs at once. You will not, however, “lose” more eggs than you would have lost in your natural cycle that month. You will simply produce a larger # of mature eggs rather than having them “go to waste”.
Many prospective donor candidates worry most about this part of the process but we have found that the reaction of our donors once they begin their injections is “this is what I was worrying about???? I can’t believe how easy this is.” Of course, we expect you to balk at the thought of sticking yourself with needles; if you told us that you thought this was a great idea then we would have to worry about you! The nurses, both at A Jewish Blessing and at the center that will be caring for you, will make sure you feel totally comfortable with all your instructions before starting the process. For a full list of medication and its side effects click here
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE I BEGIN MY HORMONAL INJECTIONS?
Once started, you will be closely monitored at frequent intervals to ensure that your body is reacting well to the medications administered and that your ovaries are responding normally. Monitoring is accomplished through a series of blood work and vaginal ultrasound appointments for which you will need to make yourself available. Appointments (approximately 5-7 visits) will take place in the early morning and it will be critical to your care as well as to the outcome of your cycle that you attend each and every appointment that is scheduled for you. If the intended family is working with a center that is not near your home (and if you have agreed to travel) then you will be flown to that location about 5-7 days after starting your stimulating hormones. This will allow the physician coordinating your cycle to monitor you during the important last stretch of your cycle. Based on your response to the medications (which will be determined by your blood work and ultrasounds) your physician will then determine the appropriate time for the eggs to be retrieved.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING RETRIEVAL?
Following retrieval, you will likely feel bloated and a little sore. Cramping is also a common experience immediately following the retrieval. Another side effect can be some nausea associated with the anesthesia. Donors can usually return home or to their arranged accommodations within several hours after the egg collection has been completed. However, you will not be able to drive until the following day when the after-effects of the anesthetic or sedation have worn off. It is generally advised to rest the remainder of the retrieval day and to take it easy for a few days post retrieval.
HOW WILL I FEEL FOLLOWING MY RETRIEVAL?
Following retrieval you will likely feel bloated and a little sore. Cramping is also a common experience immediately following the retrieval. Another side effect can be some nausea associated with the anesthesia. Donors can usually return home or to their arranged accommodations within several hours after the egg collection has been completed. However, you will not be able to drive until the following day when the after-effects of the anesthetic or sedation have worn off. It is generally advised to rest the remainder of the retrieval day and to take it easy for a few days post retrieval.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO FULLY RECOVER?
In most cases, if you follow doctor’s orders, you should be able to resume most activities within 1-2 days. However, you will be advised to take it easy and curtail heavy lifting, exercise (i.e. jogging) and intercourse until you have a period approximately 1-2 weeks following your procedure when your temporarily enlarged ovaries have returned to their normal size. Your doctor will give you detailed guidelines about post-op activities.
Occasionally, following retrieval, egg donors will report ovarian enlargement and discomfort which may be symptoms of Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This may require additional monitoring. The nurses at A Jewish Blessing will be in close touch with you not only prior to your donation but during your recovery phase as well; we will be available to answer all your questions and to support you until you are feeling totally back to normal.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY EGGS FOLLOWING THE RETRIEVAL?
The eggs will be mixed with sperm in the clinic's laboratory. The resulting fertilized eggs (embryos) will be grown in a lab dish and the best ones will then be frozen 5-6 days later for future use. Plans will then be made to transfer one or two embryos into the uterus of the intended parent at a future date. If she becomes pregnant and delivers a child, she will be the birth mother and legal mother of that child. In the event that a gestational carrier is needed to carry the child the intended parents will be the legal parents of the child. The child will, though, have a genetic connection to you, the donor.
If the family is fortunate then they may have additional embryos remaining after their first transfer which can then be used (i.e. if the first cycle fails or if they choose to add to their family at a later date).
ARE THERE RISKS TO EGG DONATION?
The risks to the donor are considered to be minimal. In less than 1% of all IVF cases there is a possibility of troublesome bleeding or pelvic infection. Equally, there is a 1% - 2% risk of excessive ovarian stimulation (too many eggs being produced) despite careful monitoring. Other possible complications, although incredibly rare, may be associated with allergic reaction and complications of anesthesia. Monitoring during your stimulation cycle is extremely important, as it allows the physicians to closely regulate medications to minimize your discomfort and side effects. However, in a relatively small number of cases, they cannot be avoided. Although very rare, there are potential risks associated with egg retrieval that could require surgery, including infection and injury to blood vessels or other structures. Any possible links between stimulation drugs and ovarian cancer continue to be a subject of extensive research. However, a positive causal effect has not been established. What is critical to us is that you make your decision thoughtfully (fully aware that although generally a very safe and simple process there are potential associated risks).
WILL DONATING MY EGGS HARM MY CHANCES OF GETTING PREGNANT IN THE FUTURE?
Women are born with approximately 2 million eggs. By the time you reach puberty you have approximately 300,000 eggs remaining. A donor cycle generally yields between 10 to 30 eggs and does not use up eggs that could be used for your future fertility. If there are no complications, being an egg donor should have no affect on your later fertility. However, if you were to develop serious complications (which are statistically rare), involving bleeding, infection, or loss of an ovary, it could potentially jeopardize your ability to conceive. Statistically your risk of being injured while driving to work is far greater than your risk while donating your eggs. The difference is that you probably need to drive to work; you do not have to donate your eggs. And so, being thoughtful about assuming these risks is of the utmost importance to us. You are encouraged to take your time to think this important decision through carefully, to speak with your friends, your family, with us and with other women who have donated (we will gladly introduce you to one) so that you ultimately make the best decision for yourself.
WHAT IS THE COMPENSATION FOR BEING AN EGG DONOR?
Donors will be compensated for their time, effort, and travel. You will be compensated $10,000 upon completion of your retrieval (but not based on the family’s success). If you are a repeat successful donor then you may be able to request a higher compensation from the intended family. Donors are also provided with a medical insurance policy which is intended to cover any unforeseen medical complications related to the donation process. Additionally, all medical testing, treatment and travel costs are covered by the family (in addition to your compensation).
WILL I NEED TO PAY TAXES ON THE COMPENSATION I RECEIVE FROM MY EGG DONATION?
In a recent 2015 tax court decision, compensation for egg donation is considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service whether you receive a 1099 tax form or not. A Jewish Blessing, LLC is not a resource for tax information. Please discuss tax implications of any money received as a result of egg donation and/or surrogacy with your tax specialist.
HOW MANY TIMES CAN I DONATE MY EGGS?
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends that any one woman donate eggs up to 6 times. Whether you may donate as a repeat donor, and how many times you may do so, will be determined by the physician and the treatment team.
ARE EGG DONATION CYCLES EVER CANCELLED?
Cancellation of an egg donation cycle is extremely unlikely but does at times occur. If the donor has followed all instructions properly and the doctor makes a clinical decision to cancel the cycle after initiation of injectable stimulating medications but prior to retrieval (due to an inadequate or otherwise problematic response the donor has to the medication) then the donor will be compensated between $500.00-$1500.00 (prorated based on the length of time she has been on stimulation injections).
WILL I BE TOLD THAT A CHILD HAS BEEN BORN?
Yes, we will gladly provide you with non-identifying information about all resulting births when you ask for this (sex of child and date of birth). A Jewish Blessing is deeply dedicated to the Jewish community and to the need to preserve the information of all offspring (both yours and the intended families you have helped) so that there is no risk later on that these children will meet and marry. We expect our donors to understand the critical importance of staying in touch with us once they themselves have started a family. We also encourage our donors, should they choose to donate more than once, to ask us to be the ones to match them again (so that this data can be preserved).
WHO NEEDS EGG DONATION?
Some of the couples we work with are infertile because the woman is unable to produce eggs. This may occur because her ovaries have never developed properly (as in, for example, Turner's syndrome), because of ovarian failure (premature menopause) or because surgery or chemotherapy has made her infertile. Also, many women as they get older have a better chance of achieving a pregnancy if they receive donated eggs. Some women are carriers of genetic disorders which can be passed on to a child through the mother's egg. Rather than risk giving birth to a child who may suffer greatly and die at an early age, a woman may request egg donation in order to increase the chance of a healthy child. Same sex families, as well, are in need of a donor’s gift in order to achieve their dream of becoming parents. You will be asked what families you are comfortable donating to.
WHAT IS THE SCREENING PROCESS FOR INTENDED PARENTS?
In addition to testing of the egg donor, there are health evaluations completed for the Intended Parents. The evaluation is similar to those undergoing IVF. Intended Parents are screened according to the specific guidelines of the fertility center they have chosen; testing will likely include a complete physical exam, STD testing as well as psychological screening and counseling. Intended mothers older than 45 will generally be required to complete further screening for cardiac issues, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and diabetes as well. If a couple plans to use their male partner’s sperm in fertilization of a donor egg, a semen analysis is conducted as well. Each fertility center will have specific guidelines for the Intended Parents.
WHAT IS THE CHANCE OF AN INTENDED FAMILY ACHIEVING A PREGNANCY?
Generally, a couple can have up to a 75% chance of achieving a pregnancy with the help of a young, healthy Egg Donor. However, many issues can decrease the potential rate of success ranging from sperm quality issues to uterine factors and more.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS FOR USING DONOR EGGS?
For intended parents interested in using donor eggs the costs will include the medical treatment for the donor and intended parents (also a surrogate if that is required), the donor’s compensation and the donor agency fee, insurance for the donor, the cost of preparing and securing the legal contract with the donor and any travel costs for the donor if she does not live near the doctor’s office. The total cost of an egg donor cycle will range from approximately $40,000 - $60,000 and can reach upwards of $100,000 if a gestational carrier is also needed. A Jewish Blessing has established a Tzedakah fund to help families achieve their dream of becoming parents because the cost of doing an egg donation cycle is often prohibitive.