What is a donor program?
A donor program is a process by which infertile couples or couples with other disorders and health conditions can seek help from others. These are third-party donors who increase the couple's chances of child-bearing. Donor programs are of three types- egg donor programs, sperm donor programs, and embryo donor programs.
Egg donor program
An egg donor program is a procedure where a fertile woman donates her eggs to help an infertile woman conceive. This procedure is conducted through assisted reproductive technology, also known as ART.
The donor undergoes a series of tests and medications to release several eggs at a single time. The process of stimulating ovaries to release multiple eggs is called hyperstimulation. Once the eggs are released, they are extracted by a specialist and transferred to the recipient after in-vitro fertilization. Egg donors might have to undergo a series of ultrasound tests before the final extraction of eggs.
Once the eggs are ready for extraction, the surgeon conducts transvaginal surgery by inserting the probe of the ultrasound with a needle. This procedure extracts the egg by separating each of them from its follicle. The entire procedure lasts for half an hour, and donors can recover within a fortnight.
Embryo donor program
Embryo donation is a process where a couple borrows an embryo fertilized by an egg with an unrelated sperm. Thus, in the case of embryo donation, both the egg and the sperm are derived from third parties and are artificially fertilized before planting it into the mother’s uterus. Such donor programs are helpful for couples who cannot fertilize their egg and sperm, owing to a serious condition in either one or both.
In an embryo donor program, the eggs are extracted from a donor, and the sperm is derived from an unrelated donor. The egg and the sperm are then fertilized through in-vitro fertilization. Once fertilization takes place, the embryos are frozen, and after a series of medical tests, they are transferred to the recipient’s uterus. Thus, in an embryo donor program, the embryo transferred into the mother’s uterus is not genetically related either to the mother or the father. Such a procedure is efficient in ruling out the chances of any abnormality in the fetus if the mother’s egg or the father’s sperm suffers from any serious condition.
Sperm donor program
A sperm donor program is similar to an egg donor program. However, in this case, the sperm is collected from a third party and injected into the women’s reproductive organ to fertilize her eggs. The process of transferring semen into the women is carried out through assisted reproductive technology, also known as ART. Such a donor program benefits couples who find natural conception challenging owing to any condition in the father. Thus, a sperm donor can help in fertilizing the egg without any complications.
Sperm donation is a relatively common and simpler process in comparison to egg donation, owing to the simple procedure. However, the donor has to undergo several tests and assessments and provide a complete medical history to ensure they pass the criteria of being a donor. The donor is sent to a private room where he needs to ejaculate into a special container with a lid. Once the semen is collected in the container, it is handed over and preserved in a special environment. The collected semen undergoes cryopreservation or freezing, where the semen is quarantined for at least 180 days. During this phase, the doctors check the semen for any infection or disease that might manifest in the fetus. Once the sperm passes all the medical tests, it is injected into the woman.
An egg donor must fulfill the following criteria: • She must be between the age of 18-32. • The donor cannot be a smoker. • She should not have a history of genetic disorders. • The donor should not have a history of substance abuse. • She must have a regular menstrual cycle.
A sperm donor must fulfill the following criteria: • His age should be between 18-32 years. • Should not be a smoker or alcoholic. • Should not have any genetic disorder. • Should qualify other tests conducted before sperm donation.
A recipient for egg or sperm donation must fulfill the following criteria: • Genetic disorders in the mother or the father • Premature menopause in women • Advanced maternal stage • Low sperm count in the father
Egg donation is a safe procedure that can be helpful for couples who fail to conceive naturally. However, the donors have to undergo some medication and tests to ensure the release of multiple eggs. Though there are no associated risks in the process, the hyperstimulation of ovaries can, at times, cause complications in the donor, which go away with time.
Yes, embryo donation is safe and can help couples trying to conceive through ART. However, the embryos might be damaged during the freezing process, especially if other tests are conducted on them. Though the chances for such complications are low, it is best to be aware.