Kelly Eden talks with Dr Sarah Wakeman about egg donation in New Zealand and what’s involved in the process of becoming a donor.
Many couples and individuals struggle with infertility in New Zealand. Starting a family is not always straightforward or easy. Adoption is rare and for those who don’t have success with IVF there are few options. Egg donation is a beautiful gift that gives hopeful parents another chance to have a baby of their own.
“It means a huge amount. It means they are still having their own baby with the genetic input from the father. They get to go through pregnancy and that means a lot to these women,” says Dr Sarah Wakeman.
Women look for an egg donor for a number of reasons. Some are over 40 and have a low chance of getting pregnant using their own eggs. Others have entered menopause early or have low egg numbers for their age. Some couples have tried for quite some time to become pregnant naturally or using IVF treatment and have been unsuccessful.
Egg donation has a fairly high success rate with around 70 per cent of donations resulting in a baby. More than one egg is taken at a time, usually 8-10 or more, and as the embryos can be saved for up to 10 years, many families are able to have more than one child from the same batch of donated eggs.
“There’s always a shortage of egg donors,” says Dr Wakeman. “With the rise in people freezing their own eggs this may be a future source of donor eggs. Some people are pleased to know that is a possible option.” However, currently there are just not enough donors to meet the need.
Dr Wakeman and her team try to make the process as easy as possible for egg donors. She is aware that egg donation is a big decision.
What’s involved in egg donation?
If you are under 36 and interested in becoming an egg donor, the first step is to fill in the online criteria form at fertilityassociates.co.nz – just search egg donor. Then one of the donor coordinators will be in touch.
If you decide to go ahead it will involve:
- Screening blood tests including one to check the number of eggs in your ovaries
- A medical examination from a fertility specialist, including a family medical history and an explanation of the risks involved
- Speaking with a fertility counsellor
- Donors are then linked with a recipient based on your requirements and theirs
- Profile information is swapped and there is an option of meeting
- A series of injections are then needed over a two week period
- Scans and blood tests, followed by a minor surgical procedure to collect eggs from
- A number of eggs are collected and fertilised. One successfully fertilised egg is then placed inside the recipient’s uterus, with a 45 per cent chance of the recipient having a baby.