What is Egg Sharing?
Egg sharing allows women who are prepared to share their eggs with a woman who needs donated eggs to have their own in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment at a much reduced fee.
Egg sharing allows a woman to share her eggs (donor) with a woman who needs donated eggs (recipient) to have in IVF treatment. The egg sharer and recipient usually remain anonymous to each other at the time of treatment but they may be already known to each other before coming for treatment. Every attempt is made to match the physical characteristics of the donors and recipients as closely as possible. Approval by the recipient will always be required before proceeding to treatment.
The donor undergoes ovarian stimulation as for a conventional stimulated IVF cycle but agrees in advance to donate half of the eggs that she produces during the treatment cycle to a matched recipient. The benefit to the donor will be a much reduced cost of the IVF treatment, whereas the benefit to the recipient will be to use donated eggs to overcome the underlying fertility problem.
Why are donor eggs needed?
Some women have no eggs of their own either as a result of an early menopause or due to chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer treatment which has left them infertile. Others have genetic conditions which they do not want to pass on to their children so they need donated eggs to overcome this problem.
How does Egg Sharing work?
Under the egg sharing scheme, sharers undergo ovarian stimulation as for an IVF cycle but agree to donate half of the eggs that they produce during a treatment cycle to a matched recipient or recipients.
Who can be accepted as an Egg Sharer?
Women wishing to share their eggs need to meet the following criteria:
- Be 30 years or under
- Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 19 and 30
- Have a Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) level on Day 2-4 of her menstrual cycle less than 10iu/l
- Have an Anti-Mullerian Hormone level above 21iu/l
- Be a non-smoker for at least 3 months or agree to smoking cessation treatment
- Have no personal history of transmissible disease
- Have no personal or family history of inheritable disorders
- Have no history of severe endometriosis
- Have both ovaries
- Have no history of previous low response to ovarian stimulation
What preparation is required?
Before being accepted onto the scheme, an egg sharer will need to complete a full medical and family history questionnaire and have a number of screening tests including testing for Human Immuno -deficiency Virus (HIV).
In addition to the screening tests both the egg sharer and her partner, where applicable, will be required to attend for counselling prior to acceptance on the scheme.
How are Sharer and Recipient matched?
The egg sharer and recipient usually remain anonymous to each other at the time of treatment.
The physical characteristics of egg sharer and recipient are compared and every attempt is made to make the closest match possible. If a close match with the recipient’s features is not possible the characteristics of her partner will be taken into account.
The Unit will try to meet any requests or wishes made by the egg sharer regarding any couple who might receive her eggs. Likewise, any special requests made by the recipient couple regarding their egg provider will be met as closely as possible.
Reproductive Health Group have now introduced an innovative addition to the egg sharing programme which allows sharers to share half their eggs to be frozen in our egg bank for future use by a recipient thus alleviating a potential lengthy waiting process.
What information is available to a child born as a result of egg sharing?
From 1st April 2005 all egg and sperm donors are required to provide identifying information. This information will be kept in confidence by both the Unit and the Human Fertilisation & Embryology authority (HFEA) and it will enable the HFEA to provide identifying information about a donor if in the future any enquiries are made by a child that has been born following egg donation (the child will have to be age 18, or 16 if getting married). The HFEA will not disclose any information without first contacting the egg provider. Please also read the leaflet Egg Donation for donors.
Can I share my eggs with someone I know?
Yes. Egg sharing can also take place between an egg sharer and egg recipient who are known to each other following appropriate screening and counselling.
Are there any risks?
Occasionally, a sharer may not produce enough eggs to share (ideally a minimum of eight eggs). In these circumstances, the sharer will be given the option to stop the treatment prior to egg collection and receive a treatment fee refund or continue with the cycle at the full cost (including drugs) using all eggs collected for herself. If the Centre agrees that the cycle can continue to egg collection on an egg share basis but fewer than 8 eggs are collected, the sharer will be given the option of using all these eggs herself at no additional cost and with no further commitment to the scheme. When an uneven number of eggs are collected the sharer will receive the extra egg.
Sometimes when ovaries are stimulated, women may get ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which if severe may be life threatening. This is very rare and women having their ovaries stimulated have regular scans to check how they are responding to the stimulation.
Can I change my mind?
As stated in the HFEA Act, an egg sharer may withdraw or vary her consent up to the time an embryo involving her egg is used in treatment. Please note however that if as a sharer you produce a sufficient number of eggs to share with a recipient but then decide to withdraw consent, you will be responsible for the full cost of the cycle.
What is the cost of treatment as an Egg Sharer?
Egg sharers pay for consultations and screening followed by an inclusive IVF Egg Sharing fee or intracytoplasmic sperm Injection (ICSI) Egg Sharing fee plus HFEA fee. Alternatively, if the sharer wishes her eggs to be shared to the egg bank for use by a future recipient she pays for blood tests to check her ovarian reserve, an ultrasound scan and semen analysis for her partner followed by a fixed amount of £1700 plus HFEA. This covers all treatment and drugs with the exception of freezing and storage of embryos, use of donor sperm and general anaesthetic if required.