Third Party Reproduction
Donor Egg Program
Some women may have to consider using donated eggs if they are unable to produce healthy eggs on their own. Even a woman in menopause (or younger women with premature ovarian failure/menopause) can become pregnant using donor eggs! Other circumstances under which a woman may need donor eggs to conceive include Turner’s syndrome (a genetic condition), previous surgical removal of the ovaries, or having survived cancer treated with chemotherapy or radiation that was toxic to the ovaries. Women who are carriers of genetic diseases may also want to consider using donor eggs.
Most patients requiring donor eggs, though, are women who have not reached menopause but are at the end stages of their reproductive abilities. Some of these patients may be of advanced reproductive age, but it is not uncommon for us to encounter younger women with diminished ovarian reserve, now that sensitive, accurate testing for this condition has become available.
When a patient requires donor eggs to conceive, she can choose to use an anonymous donor or a known donor, such as a friend or relative. The woman donating her eggs receives medication to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple egg-containing follicles. The patient prepares her uterus in a synchronized fashion by taking estrogen tablets or applying estrogen patches and adds progesterone to the regimen when ovulation is triggered in the donor.
The donor’s eggs, when mature, are retrieved as in a typical in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure; while the donor is under anesthesia, the doctor uses a special needle under ultrasound guidance to harvest the eggs from the ovaries. The eggs are then fertilized in a laboratory dish. After the fertilized eggs, or embryos, are incubated for 2 to 5 days, they are transferred to the patient’s uterus in a simple, outpatient procedure. A pregnancy test is performed 9 to 12 days after the embryo transfer.
Dr. Selub started the first donor egg program in South Florida in 1991. The IVF program of FIRST continues to have the largest number of immediately available egg donors in the state. Recently, other South Florida centers are have been encouraging patients to consider donor eggs from the several proprietary frozen egg banks that have sprung up in the U.S. over the past several years. While the technology to freeze human eggs has been gradually improving, the success rates per single attempt at pregnancy using frozen donor eggs do not approach those of cycles in which freshly harvested eggs are fertilized in vitro.
At FIRST, we happily work with any egg donors you may choose to recruit from an outside agency. Keep in mind, however, that if you choose one of our "in-house" egg donors, you will not pay any agency fees, so trying to conceive using fresh donor eggs at FIRST is a most economical treatment option! FIRST has donors, and continually seeks donors, of different ethnic backgrounds and different physical characteristics so that our patients have a choice. Donor egg recipients at FIRST receive all the eggs retrieved from their selected donor.
About Becoming an Egg Donor
We appreciate your interest in the Donor Egg Program at the Florida Institute for Reproductive Sciences and Technologies (FIRST) and are very pleased to be able to provide donor eggs to women who, for various reasons, are unable to have children using their own eggs.
The use of donor eggs is a technique that carries a very good chance of the recipient giving birth to a baby. Our team has had vast experience and much success using donor eggs. To get inspired by being an egg donor, click on the letter written by one of our donor egg recipients:
If you are under 32 years old, you can help a woman become pregnant by donating your eggs. The process is not painful or dangerous, nor does it harm your fertility, but before you contact us to enter our program, we want you to understand the procedures involved in harvesting your eggs. Please take the time to carefully read through all the following information below:
The success of the egg donation procedure is partially dependent on how many eggs we are able to retrieve from your ovaries. To monitor your response to the ovarian stimulation process, which involves injecting yourself on a daily basis for about a week and a half, as described below, you will need to come to our office for frequent blood tests and vaginal ultrasound exams. About four visits during the time you are taking the daily hormone injections are required. You will be able to complete the entire process (including preliminary office visits) in about six or seven total visits. Please do not consider egg donation if you have a tight schedule or inflexible working hours.
You will have to take injectable medication to stimulate your ovaries to produce extra eggs. The injection technique is very similar to the way a diabetic injects insulin, using a very tiny, thin, short needle that is inserted just under the skin. You may be instructed to inject yourself once, twice, or sometimes three times a day. Injections must be taken at a precise, indicated time or they will not be effective. When the eggs are mature, they are retrieved through a needle that is inserted through the vaginal wall into the ovaries. During this very safe, outpatient procedure, which lasts about 15 minutes, you are sedated so that you have no discomfort. After the retrieval, you can resume normal activities the following day.
Dr. Selub is specially trained to perform the egg harvesting procedure, which takes place at the Surgery Center of Weston, located on the second floor of the Broward Health Weston building, in Weston, Florida., in the same building in which our office is located. You will receive intravenous medications for light sedation in the surgery center, so you will need to have someone to drive you home that day.
Only after following all instructions properly and completing the egg donation process, will you receive a $3,000.00 honorarium payment to compensate you for your time and effort? Your check will arrive by mail within five to ten business days following your egg retrieval procedure if you are an anonymous egg donor for FIRST. Donors from outside agencies will be compensated according to the arrangements they have made with their agency and egg donors known to their recipients may make whatever arrangements they wish.
If you are still interested in becoming an egg donor and wish to be considered for our program, contact Debbie Carmichael at the telephone number appearing above, or by email at [email protected]. She will send you a form to fill it out. After filling out the form, you may email it to us at [email protected], drop it off in person, or mail it to the address appearing on our home page.
Please include a recent photograph of yourself; recipients of anonymous donor eggs often request to see pictures of potential egg donors to help them make a decision and feel more comfortable with the process.
Once we receive the completed form from you, you may be asked to come to our office to complete the screening process. If you are selected by a recipient to donate eggs anonymously, we will contact you to check on your availability and make arrangements with you to begin the process.
We appreciate your desire to give of yourself to help another and look forward to hearing from you soon. Please do not hesitate to call if you have further questions.
Working with a Gestational Carrier (Surrogate)
There are many reasons for using a gestational carrier, including certain health conditions of the commissioning mother, or the absence of a uterus because of previous surgery or a congenital abnormality, or a history of many pregnancy losses or multiple IVF failures. Of course, Gay males must work with a surrogate to become parents. The selected carrier should be in excellent health to the greatest extent possible and, if she has been pregnant before, have a good obstetric history.
Working with a gestational carrier usually involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) of eggs that are harvested from another woman, either a commissioning parent or an egg donor selected by the commissioning parent(s). This more common approach is favored for important legal reasons. The harvested eggs are then fertilized in-vitro, in FIRST's laboratory, outside the carrier's body, to form embryos that will later be transferred to her uterus. FIRST will, however, work with "traditional" gestational carriers, women willing to become pregnant using their own eggs through artificial insemination. This tends to be a simpler, more natural, and more affordable approach that can be appropriate in some situations.
Lesbian couples may wish to become parents through Reciprocal IVF, where one female partner donates her eggs to be fertilized with donor sperm, while the other female partner serves as the gestational carrier. Before considering a Reciprocal IVF procedure, both female partners must be thoroughly screened to ensure that they are, indeed, candidates for their respective roles. Once cleared, the donating partner undergoes an egg retrieval procedure and her eggs are then fertilized in-vitro with donor sperm. The other female partner prepares her uterus with medication and undergoes an embryo transfer to serve as a gestational carrier. Through Reciprocal IVF, both female partners are able to play a vital role in, and have a biological connection to, the conception and birth of their child!
We have extensive experience working with patients who commission a gestational carrier and know how to streamline the process for all parties involved. If you believe you are a good candidate to carry a pregnancy for someone else and wish to be considered as a surrogate, please do not hesitate to call us to get more information about whether or not you may qualify! If you do qualify as a candidate, after passing the requisite screening tests, we can quickly match you so that you can get on the road to helping make another person's dream come true.
For decades, commissioning patients, gestational carriers, and attorneys, too, have turned to FIRST for our hassle-free, successful approach to making third party reproduction through gestational surrogacy a safe and joyful experience. If you are searching for a gestational carrier, please call us to find out about the availability of our "in-house" gestational surrogates. We also routinely collaborate closely with several capable agencies and experienced attorneys specializing in recruiting immediately available gestational carriers.
Many of our patients have already identified a candidate to be their gestational carrier before consulting with us, often tapping a close friend or relative. We are happy to work with you to begin the screening process. Once all participating parties are medically cleared, you will be referred for legal counsel, as necessary, while we help you tackle the logistic issues and prepare for the necessary IVF or insemination procedures.
A separate initial interview with Dr. Selub is necessary for each individual potentially playing a biological role in the planned pregnancy in cases of third party reproduction in which a gestational carrier is commissioned. A legal contract between the commissioning parent(s) will be required by FIRST in most situations. Keep in mind that you will need legal counsel to be able to adopt a child after delivery from a gestational carrier, or “birth mother.” Often, outside agencies recruiting and providing gestational carriers have in-house legal services to help you create a contract with your surrogate and draw up a pre-birth adoption agreement. No legal fees or fees to support and compensate a gestational carrier for her services before, during and after her pregnancy are included in any fees paid to FIRST.
Therapeutic Donor Sperm Insemination
In cases where the male partner is sterile, has a very low sperm count, or there is a possibility of a male-linked genetic abnormality, or if no male partner is available, anonymous donor sperm may be used. Some patients may choose to use sperm from a known sperm donor. Both options can be effective and are extremely safe. For patients with a very severe male factor, or if the male partner has had a vasectomy, using donor sperm is an economical alternative to IVF with ICSI. Some patients decide to use donor sperm when multiple ICSI cycles have failed.
Donor semen is available from a number of very reliable and trustworthy sperm banks. Sperm donors are tested for transmissible diseases, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, and Cytomegalovirus, as well as their blood type. Cryopreserved sperm purchased from a sperm bank is quarantined for six months, and the donor is retested for infections. Only then, if the tests remain negative, is the donated sperm, already frozen for six months, made available for insemination.
A woman can carry a baby of any blood type, but if the carrying female is Rh negative, she may elect to choose a donor who is also Rh negative to avoid the need for RhoGAM injections during pregnancy. She may also wish to match her sperm donor's blood type to that of her male partner.
If a potential carrier of a pregnancy is CMV negative (her test shows that she has not been exposed to Cytomegalovirus), she should select a sperm donor who is also CMV negative for insemination. Sperm from a CMV positive donor can be used only by women who are also CMV positive or who are using in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to achieve a pregnancy.
Information about the sperm donor's physical characteristics such as hair color, skin tone, and eye color as well as blood type of the sperm donor is available in each sperm bank's catalog which can usually be viewed online. A donor's ethnicity and level of education is often indicated and many sperm banks offer pictures and even more data on their sperm donors for a fee.
For more information about sperm banks, here is a list for some leading ones in the U.S. More information can be obtained by doing a Google search for any of these and most catalogs can be viewed online:
- Seattle Sperm Bank
- Manhattan CryoBank
- Sperm Bank of California
- Fairfax Cryobank
- Pacific Reproductive Services
- Xytex Cryo International
- New England Cryogenic Center, Inc.
- California Cryobank Inc.
- Cryos International – USA; Enter PROMO CODE: FIRSFL15 for 15% off sperm and eggs.
- Midwest Sperm Bank
- International Cryogenics Inc.
- N W Andrology & Cryobank
- NW Cryobank
- Repro Lab
- Rainbow Flag Health Services
You can easily arrange to have your specimen(s) delivered to FIRST directly from your chosen sperm bank or transferred from another doctor's office. Just call us to ask how! We have the facilities to keep your specimen frozen and safe for as much time as necessary before you are ready to use your sperm. Fees will apply for cryopreserved specimens remaining at FIRST for more than one year.
Designating a Known, Non-Intimate Sperm Donor
Nowadays, many patients request to use a non-intimate friend, acquaintance, or relative as a designated sperm donor. FIRST recommends following the Society for Reproductive Sciences and Technology (SART.org) donor tissue banking guidelines (followed by all proprietary, licensed sperm banks in the U.S.) regarding infectious disease screening and quarantining of donor sperm from a non-intimate male that you may decide to use as a sperm donor. In such cases, you and your sperm donor are advised to seek legal counsel prior to the insemination procedure.
Once you are counseled regarding the risks (and benefits) of using a known, designated sperm donor with whom you have not been sexually intimate, you may decide to use his sperm to try to achieve a pregnancy without quarantining his frozen sperm sample for at least six months, as recommended by SART guidelines. Patients electing to take this alternative to purchasing sperm from a sperm bank are permitted to forgo the six month waiting period, or even use a fresh semen sample for donor insemination, is willing to assume the small but finite risk of being exposed to a potentially serious health problem.