Encyclopedia of Reproductive Technologies

By Annette Burfoot | Go to book overview

forty-eight
Egg Donation

ERICA HAIMES

Egg (ovum or oocyte) donation involves the transfer of an egg from one woman to help another woman conceive a child. This practice occurs when the recipient either cannot produce her own eggs (for example, because of early menopause or treatment for cancer) or when a genetic disorder might be passed on to the child if her eggs are used. The first birth of a baby conceived from a donated egg occurred in 1984 in Australia. This is a complex procedure for all parties and is particularly invasive for the donor, as it is she who must undergo hyperovulation and egg retrieval. The menstrual cycles of both donor and recipient have to be artificially coordinated. The donor receives hormones to stimulate her ovaries to produce extra eggs, and these eggs are then collected, either under general anesthetic using laparoscopy or more commonly through a variety of ultrasound techniques. A range of side effects has been reported in donors undergoing all of the above. Donation also makes demands on a donor's time, energy, and emotions.

Success rates of 40-47 percent have been reported, but it is not clear whether these figures refer to the number of pregnancies achieved or the number of live births. Egg donation is available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Israel; but several countries, such as Austria, Ireland, Japan, and Sweden, prohibit its use even though each allows a variety of other assisted-conception techniques. In Germany, egg donation is allowed only in exceptional circumstances. In Sweden, it has been argued that egg donation goes against the natural process of life.

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