“Prior to the use of egg donation, many infertile couples were left with no option other than to be childless or to adopt”

Understanding Egg Donation

Egg donation is a process by which a woman donates her eggs to another woman who does not have her own eggs, which maybe absent or of poor quality. It is a type of a third party reproduction in which eggs, sperms, or embryos of a donor are used to enable an infertile individual or couple (intended recipients) to become parents. Third party reproduction also includes surrogacy, in which the uterus is utilized instead of eggs.

Ever since the first pregnancy through egg donation in 1984, egg donations have been increasingly used, with success rates of around 50-55 per cent per cycle of treatment. Prior to the use of egg donation, many infertile couples, especially women who had premature failure of their ovaries. women planning their pregnancies at an older age, women with genetic diseases, single men and gay couples were left with no option other than to be childless or to adopt. Donor eggs give an infertile woman an opportunity to become pregnant and give birth to her biological child whom she carries through pregnancy in her womb.

Guidelines Of ICMR

Though the legal status of children born through egg donation in India is well defined, keeping in view legal, social and ethical issues, egg donors in India have to be anonymous, and have to be between 21 and 34 years of age. preferably. having their own child! children, as per the guidelines of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The most common reason for donors to donate their eggs is to earn a living to support their families or to fund their children’s schooling, as more than 95 per cent of egg donors belong to the low socio-economic strata.

The ‘Donation’ Procedure

The physical charactenstics and preferences of the intended parents are matched and a donor most suited for them is allocated after thoroughly screening her for transmittable infections and some diseases. Once finalized, a donor’s ovaries are stimulated with hormonal injections and eggs harvested/retrieved from her ovaries in a minor surgical procedure under anaesthesia. The procedure is carried out under the guidance of ultrasound and fertilized with the sperms of the husband of the couple undergoing treatment in the laboratory. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the intended mother’s womb.

An average donor produces 8-35 eggs, depending on how strongly she is stimulated, her own egg reserve and her age. Occasionally, there is a risk of hyperstimulated ovaries (OHSS) especially if the stimulation is very strong in an attempt to produce a large number of eggs. It can also occur when or if the donor’s ovaries hyperrespond to even a standard dose of hormones. In such cases, hospitalization of the donor may be required to keep her under observation and administer the necessary treatment. However, there are no long-term consequences of egg donation.

Embryo Donation Awareness

Embryo donation is also a form of third party reproduction whereby the embryos are donated for use by an infertile couple. Surplus embryos donated by couples or embryos created through donor eggs and donor sperms are utilized for embryo donation. In India, embryo adoption and donation is carried out on an anonymous basis. However, the characteristics of the intended parents must be matched with those of the parents who are donating, so that the baby is not very different from the appearance of the intended parents.

The embryos are usually kept frozen in a laboratory and the lining of the womb of the intended mother is prepared to receive the embryo, using some hormonal medications, Once ready, the embryos are thawed and put into the womb. Legally, the child belongs to the mother who gives birth to the baby, despite the child not being hers, genetically.

Embryo donation is typically suited for couples with both egg and sperm problems, and where multiple miscarriages have taken place or there have been recurrent IVF failures in absence of any other correctable reason. The success rates of embryo adoption are high and since the embryos have already been created and stored in the IVF laboratory, the cost is significantly lesser than that of egg donation.

Embryo donation is offered to couples after thorough evaluation and counselling and if it is found that they have a very poor chance of having their own genetic child. This scientific miracle called Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) has given millions of infertile couples globally, a reason to smile!

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