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What are the different types of donor?

When using donor eggs for IVF, you’ll find your donor will fall into one of the following three categories:

How are donors screened?

All egg donors undergo a thoughtful and thorough screening process to make sure they’re mentally and physically suitable. This process begins with an initial consultation with a doctor followed by a counselling session to discuss the social and ethical issues pertaining to egg donation. We’ll then screen for the following:

  • Full blood count
  • Blood group and Rhesus type
  • HIV and HTLV
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Syphilis (VDRL)
  • Cytomegalovirus virus (CMV) antibodies screening
  • Chromosomal analysis
  • Cystic fibrosis screening
  • High vaginal swab
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhoea (urine test)
  • In non-Caucasian donors, other screening tests are carried out in suitable cases:
  • Sickle cell tests for Africans
  • Thalassaemia screening for Asians and Mediterraneans
  • Taysach’s disease screening for Jews

We’ll also screen for infectious diseases (HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea) by a new method called the nucleic acid amplification technique (NAT) immediately before the donor is due to start treatment. This technique allows early detection of viral infections that may have an incubation period.

Even after a donation, donors must inform the clinic of any medical information that may come to light in the future – information that may have health implications for any woman who receives treatment with their eggs, or for any child born as a result of such treatment.

PGT-A (formerly called PGS) checks whether an embryo has the correct number of chromosomes. Embryos that have the correct number of chromosomes are called euploid and those that do not are called aneuploid.

One of the main reasons an embryo fails to implant or results in miscarriage is a genetic (chromosomal) abnormality. Furthermore, the risk of genetic abnormalities being present significantly increases with maternal age.

How are donors and recipients matched?

Typically, donors and recipients are matched for ethnicity, and physical characteristics such as eye-colour, hair-colour, skin-colour, height and build. You’ll be offered donors who our egg donation team believes are a close match to you and your partner. You’ll be provided with the following information for each donor:

  • Non-identifying physical characteristics (including height, weight, body build, skin colour, hair, colour and eye colour)
  • Medical history
  • Hobbies and other interests
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Whether or not they have had previous pregnancies and/or children

Is the process anonymous?

The law regarding donor anonymity was amended in 2005. For the avoidance of doubt, these are the guidance notes provided by the HFEA on this subject:

The HFEA keeps a confidential register of information about donors, patients and treatments. This register was set up on 1st August 1991 and therefore contains information concerning children conceived from licensed treatments from that date onwards.

People conceived as a result of licensed treatment aged 16+ (if contemplating marriage) or 18, who ask the HFEA, will be told whether or not they were born as a result of licensed assisted conception treatment and, if so, whether they are related to the person they want to marry.

As the law now stands, children born as a result of treatment in the UK using donor eggs will have the right to learn the identity of the donor on reaching the age of eighteen, if the treatment was carried out on or after 1st April 2005. No information about patients, their children and donors related to treatment before this date* will be given out by the Authority under any circumstances other than those outlined above. The names of the children are not collected.

*An exception would be if the child was born with a disability as a result of a donor’s failure to disclose inherited disease. If he or she were to sue a clinic for damages, a court might require the HFEA to disclose the donor’s identity under the Congenital Disabilities (Civil Liabilities) Act 1976.

In the UK, per the HFEA guidelines, a donor’s cytomegalovirus virus (CMV) status should be matched with that of the recipient. If the recipient is CMV (IgG) positive, she can use a CMV (IgG) positive or a CMV negative donor. If a recipient is CMV negative she can only be matched with a CMV negative donor.

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