Egg donation

You cannot donate eggs like you donate blood. The process is long and a donor cannot be paid, which promotes “reproductive tourism”.

To understand the situation, it is important to know that there are three types of egg donation:

  • Designated donation: The donor and recipient are close to one another – cousin, sister, friend… - and they go to the clinic together to proceed to the transfer.
  • Crossed donation: the woman who does not want to meet her donor recruits another donor to accompany her to the clinic but who will donate an egg to another recipient who will be accompanied by the first recipient’s donor on another occasion to avoid meeting.
  • Altruistic donation: anonymous donors go to the clinic to donate eggs that will be put in contact with the husband’s sperm of a recipient that they do not know.
Who are the recipients?

Donated eggs help women who cannot conceive, whether because their ovarian function is reduced or because they have no ovaries. Women with a genetic disease or who have a genetic history also use them.

Requests for egg donation are becoming more frequent, especially because a growing number of women wait until their forties to conceive for professional or other reasons and unfortunately, their ovaries are not as young as when they were in their twenties.

More and more gay couples also use sperm banks or egg donors to have a child.

Who are the donors?

They must be 35 years old or less and should not suffer from any genetic diseases. Women who would like to donate must undergo blood tests to that effect.

Egg donors are not lining up at the clinic’s door and are obviously must less inclined to donate than sperm donors.

Why? Because the process for this type of donation takes more time, is more complex and is more intrusive.

Egg donation: the process

The donor, as well as the recipient and her spouse must first undergo preparatory genetic tests (blood tests) to ensure that there is no risk of a genetically transmitted disease.

All three then meet the psychologist of the clinic to ensure that their decision was well thought out. They must also discuss the risk that the donor may eventually feel attached to this child who will carry her genes.

Then, hormonal medication is given to the donor to stimulate the production of eggs. It is called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. That way, ovaries can produce up to 15 eggs.

After maturation, the eggs are removed under local anaesthesia.

This process takes between 10 and 26 days.

It is also possible to remove eggs without ovarian stimulation but the doctors must adapt to the donor’s cycle and fewer eggs are harvested.

Once collected, the eggs grow for a few days and are put in contact with the sperm of the donor’s husband and placed in an incubator.

Finally, doctors introduce the embryos in the recipient’s uterus (usually up to three).

The only risk for the donor is to develop hyperstimulation syndrome that can cause infection, pain or haemorrhage and may require hospitalisation. This risk is very low (around 1%) and can be controlled, says Dr Jacques Kadoch, MD Medical Director at the OVO clinic.

Too few donations: why?

Donations of sperm and eggs have never been paid in Quebec and are no longer paid in the rest of Canada since the adoption of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act in 2004.Young women can no longer pay they university fees by being generously paid to give eggs like they used to.

However, the law authorizes clinics to compensate donors for their travel, upon presentation of a receipt. The amount varies from one clinic to another.

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