In today’s article, I want to put some light on the practical part of choosing an egg donor for your egg donation program. My intention is to give you tools that will lead you to the best result and to a simpler view on this complicated topic.
First of all, there are some things that you need to know about egg donors. You may know something already, but in order to understand the real picture of the ovum donation in details, you have to see it also from the perspective of the women who actually donate. This is a very powerful and useful knowledge.
“How can this help me in the selection of an egg donor?” you may ask. Being only on the side of the receiver of eggs, your perception of an egg donor can be neither whole nor unbiassed. And this, certainly, affects your approach to the process of selection itself, as you lack fragments to see and understand the whole picture.
Who is an egg donor?
Egg donation is allowed in Ukraine by law. An egg donor is a young woman, who at some stage of her life and within certain circumstances has come to the decision to donate her eggs through an IVF procedure, to become a so-called IVF donor. Such woman usually has to meet specific and very strict egg donor criteria in order not only to give a healthy biological material and a sufficient number of IVF eggs but also to avoid egg donation risks for her own health. Donor eggs can have different fate – they can be stored in an egg donor bank or get fertilized right away with the sperm of the intended father or they may become frozen donor eggs and be stored until a couple chooses the profile of that egg donor. Though, frozen eggs are not as popular as fresh cycles with fertilization, because a frozen egg significantly loses the required quality.
Egg donor candidate medical tests
There is no exception, all egg donor candidates undergo a very thorough examination for all possible bacteria, viruses, TORCH infections, HIV, syphilis, Hepatitis, hormones, ultrasounds and much more. Only 4 candidates out of 10 pass such tests successfully. We do not perform any kind of treatments to egg donor candidates, even if any medical test will come out with bad results, though our doctors always give a recommendation for treatment for such women. Our intention is to engage only 100% healthy egg donors in order to ensure the highest possible success probability for our IVF programs, while protecting the health of the egg donors.
Why many egg donors donate only once?
An unhealthy egg donor can’t be accepted into a program first of all because of the risks and complications that may be life-threatening to her. Requirements to the donors are very high not only because intended parents need a good biomaterial, but also to protect the health of the egg donor. Even with a completely healthy candidate, many complications still may arise during stimulation and after the egg harvesting, like discomfort during stimulation, side effects from the medication, hyperstimulation syndrome during the protocol or after the eggs pick-up. Such egg donors usually inform their egg donor agency or reproductive center of their intention to donate only once as their egg donation experience was uncomfortable or had some complications and it is very easy to understand.
My point is that these egg donors do never reach a static database, because they donate once and have no intention to have a profile to be chosen in the future. If there can be a database, it can only be a database of egg donors that are willing to come back and donate again. Taking this fact into consideration, I want to drag your attention to the vast egg donor databases in Ukraine and in other countries that many agencies and fertility clinics have and to the age of the profiles that do not change over years and many of them are not available. The conclusions are obvious.
Proven egg donors, who are they?
Proven egg donors are candidates with successful egg donation experience. Basically, it means that this proven ovum donor has successfully participated in a program that has led to the pregnancy of an intended mother or a surrogate mother with live-birth after the egg retrieval and embryo transfer.
Such an egg donor database is very valuable, as choosing such egg donor can maximize the success rate of an embryo transfer significantly.
Also, intended parents may rest assured that such an egg donator will give a good response to hormonal stimulation and provide high quality eggs. Proven egg donors are in high demand and usually have additional compensation for donation.
In our ovum database in Ukraine, we have many good looking, healthy, proven egg donors and this is the only possible egg donor database that can be provided to our intended parents right away without waiting time. A new, never donated, first-time egg donor can be also presented to a couple after filling in the egg donor questionnaire. Our center always has many egg donors at different stages: first time requested, passed the initial appointment with the fertility doctor, undergoing medical tests and at the final stage - fully tested and ready to start the protocol.
How to ensure the egg donor profile is not fake?
Ukraine has no common (global, public, state) egg donor database so that every donor could register in it. Every clinic and agency have its own register list and usually, it’s not sharable. The quality of the examination and egg donor selection in Ukraine vary from clinic to clinic, from agency to agency. The pictures of egg donors, for the most part, are very beautiful and it is very difficult to understand whether these pictures are real or fake, whether real people stand behind these beautiful pictures.
How can a couple be confident with an agency regarding the choice of an egg donor? Egg donation in Ukraine is anonymous and, taking this into consideration, it’s not possible to track your egg donor during the stimulation till the egg retrieval and to prove that this is the same person that you have chosen by the profile. It is a matter of trust to a center, but we have our fully legal ways to make you more confident in your choice, it’s our know-how and “secret weapon” and we prefer to talk about it with our clients only and during first meetings.
Why are egg donors special?
In our center, we specialize in exclusive egg donors only, with perfect health, with higher education and of a model look by request. The medical check-up contains karyotyping and testing for certain genetic syndromes, alcohol, drugs and smoking tests. We have a guarantee for the number of eggs per stimulation cycle, the minimum number is 10 eggs from an egg donor, but usually, our egg donors give 15-25 eggs of high quality and this leads to good quality and number embryos on day 5. Having mostly caucasian egg donors, we have also have started a selection of Asian egg donors and successfully offer such profiles to intended parents. All our candidates are available at the moment of presentation to couples, because we have found a perfect approach to the egg donor selection process. After a client fills in the egg donor questionnaire, coordination manager looks at the parameters and matches them with only fresh tested and 100% available profiles to save time for the client and make everything easy and comfortable. Every couple will be satisfied with the matching and as soon as the egg donor is booked, he sometimes does not even reach the database because of such a quick booking. The process of new requests, physical examinations, matching, selection and booking of an egg donor is always an ongoing process and we basically have no egg donors in a waiting list. Though we have a static egg donor database with a password access, this is the best egg donor database in Ukraine, because it contains only proven egg donors that have successfully donated and candidates are willing to return for a stimulation. So, basically, we have always new arrivals of candidates and a wide database of available and proven egg donors. Such approach has significantly saves the time between signing of the contract and actual IVF procedure of fertilization and improved the IVF success rate of every program.
Super quick start
Our exclusive approach to the egg donation process in Ukraine allows us to present an egg donor to our clients even before the actual signing of the documents and the agreement and on the first visit, it is possible to have a booked egg donor and to meet a surrogate mother if you need one. This actually shortens the time between the first visit and the fertilization to the minimum. The cycles start right away and there are no analogs of such a fast egg donation process in Ukraine.
Please feel free to contact us by email, phone or any massager of you want to choose an egg donor, we will be glad to assist.
Review of current legal situation on surrogacy in Ukraine
Many words allert
Recently the internet exploded after the news that surrogacy in Ukraine will be banned for foreign couples. I have started to receive numerous questions regarding this matter and many current clients began to worry about their programs. That was absolutely expected. After a deep investigation of the situation, analyzing the 2 draft laws and after contacting specialists who took part in the creation of the second draft law, I am ready to give a clear and comprehensive answer. I will give you some details of my investigation of this issue because I myself am very interested in explaining to the intended parents and future families that it’s too early to make final conclusions. Besides, I am quite optimistic about the future changes in this field.
The Short Answer
But first, I want to calm everybody: In my opinion, based on the results of my investigation and on the real situation in reproductive medicine in Ukraine - there will be no ban of surrogacy for foreign couples in Ukraine!
The Situation in the Media
The situation may look the opposite in the media, but the media is such a mechanism that tends to make sensations to draw attention, and not to go deep into the topic, making people afraid and confused when it’s absolutely not necessary. As far as I know, the media are currently discussing only one draft law, which makes surrogacy programs more complicated for foreigners, but does not ban it. In reality, there are two different draft laws. The second one only brings positive regulations to the existing legislation and to my mind, this is the law that will pass. Read on and we will discuss both draft laws in details.
So, the mess has begun from the scandal with one reproductive clinic in Kiev, which you might already know, it’s biotexcom. It was accused in trafficking of children. Let the special organs investigate the case, it’s not the topic of this article, but this is the point where the whole thing started. The reason of the mass reaction in the media is that the case became public after the statement of the chief prosecutor. The moment of the informational wave was then used by some haters of surrogacy in Ukraine among deputies and religion representatives to register some corrections to the current law on surrogacy (the first draft law) to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
The First Draft Law in Details
The first draft law is a new law project, named “Corrections to some legislative acts of Ukraine (about protection of children’s rights using reproductive technologies) N8625 from 18.07.2018. In short, this is the law project, or bill that made so much fuss and it doesn’t ban surrogacy in Ukraine. I will point out the main changes, proposed in it:
1) Only the citizens of Ukraine, foreigners and persons without citizenship with permanent residency in Ukraine have the right for fertility treatment using reproductive technologies in Ukraine.
2) The second major point makes changes to the definition of the term “exploitation of people” in the Criminal Codex of Ukraine by adding the following text lines: “Forced use of a woman for a transfer of a human embryo in order to carry a child and give birth to a child.”
Now let me comment on this draft law. First of all, the goal of the first point is not to ban surrogacy in Ukraine but to make a restriction for foreigners entering Ukraine by visa, not only for surrogacy but for any ART (assistive reproductive technology) treatment, like IVF, egg donation and embryo donation in Ukraine. It requires permanent residency in Ukraine. My opinion is that this is absolutely unreasonable and puts the development of reproductive medicine in Ukraine at risk.
The second point is very questionable, because how can one actually force a woman to transfer an embryo and carry a pregnancy against her will? The order of the Health Ministry of Ukraine N787 from 09.09.2013 about the use of ART clearly states in point VI, 6.10. that there must be a special application from a surrogate mother and a consent of her husband if she is married. That consent even has a special form and is given in the same order in additions. Therefore, the correction regarding the forced use of a woman for an embryo transfer is not making any sense, because such a regulation is already present in the existing criminal law as “forced pregnancy” and the Order 787 gives clear regulations that a surrogate mother makes it from her free will.
This might sound all confusing and puzzled, but my personal opinion is that these corrections were made on a fast hand, on a scandal background and might not even pass the committees.
The Second Draft Law in Details
The second law project N8629 “Law for reproductive technologies” was presented the next day on the 19.07.2018 and registered to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. This law project was presented by 3 deputies from the presidential party, this fact is very important because this party has a big influence in Parliament today. The next important fact is that this law was in development for 5 years before registration with the help of the Ukrainian Association of Reproductive Medicine of Ukraine (UARM). It’s a separate law, not corrections to current surrogacy law, which is actually a number of legal acts. It is obvious that this law project has more chances to pass and it will be good if it passes through because it has actual improvements and better regulations that are missing or are not clear in the current law. I have contacted the UARM representatives regarding some points and watched a press conference that they have organized on this matter.
Let’s go through the main points of the second law project:
- Age limit till 55 years only for women willing to undergo a reproductive treatment in Ukraine. This limit doesn’t concern men.
- Definition of terms such as “genetic parents”, “surrogate mother”, “surrogate motherhood”, “In Vitro Fertilization”, “infertility”, “Assisted Reproductive Technologies”.
- According to this law, there must be a notarized agreement between intended parents and surrogate mother, stating the compensation, if necessary and refund of food, clothes, medical support for the period of gestation etc. There must be a notarized consent of husband of surrogate mother before the agreement.
- It is also proposed to enshrine in the law the obligatory genetic connection between the child and at least one of the intended parents and no genetic link between the surrogate mother and the child.
- The medical indication for surrogacy remains in this law as well. A woman-patient must have clear medical indications to undergo this kind of treatment in Ukraine.
- Only a married heterosexual couple can have a surrogacy program in Ukraine. Surrogacy is not possible for same-sex couples and persons without citizenship. Foreign couples receive treatment according to requirements of current legislation.
- In this new law project, the rights and obligations of surrogate mother and intended parents arise, which was missing in the current law.
- The egg donor remains anonymous, but in case of two-party agreement between the egg donor and intended parents the egg donor can donate without anonymity.
- An egg donor has no parental rights for the baby and has no right to find out the fact of the child birth and actual official parents.
- The personal presence of both intended parents is required.
- In case of death of both intended parents, in case of divorce or unrecognition of marriage before the birth of the child, the intended parents are recognized as parents of the child.
The article 15 in part III of this law, which is about the right of using the reproductive technologies, says literally:
“Ukrainian citizens, foreigners and persons without citizenship that live in Ukraine temporary or permanently, have the right to apply to health institutions for a fertility treatment using reproductive technologies”.
The problem is that “living” and “staying” are completely different terms in Ukrainian legislation. Temporary living is a special long-term card for a temporary living, and a short-term or long-term visa is a temporary stay according to the acting Law of Ukraine “For legal status of foreigners and persons without citizenship”. I have contacted a lawyer, who is a member of the UARM and took part in this law project development. She explained me that UARM fully supports the position where ART treatment is available for foreigners that are on the territory of Ukraine legally, it means a temporary stay by visa as well. This law project N8629 will undergo corrections from committees for this issue and in general, will probably look even better and will only improve the legislation of Ukraine for reproductive technologies and surrogacy.
How the laws enact in Ukraine
In order to better understand the whole picture, I want to explain how the law is passed through and enacts in Ukraine – first, a number of deputies presents a draft law, register it and it appears online on a government website showing all the process of committees’ consideration, corrections made to the draft and the final voting. This process might be spread over time and undergo serious changes or even a full rejection. Even if the law passes the voting and is possibly adopted, the president of Ukraine has the right to put a veto on it. Such a veto situation happened in the year 2011 with an attempt to limit the age of women coming for reproductive treatment in Ukraine. The law was adopted, but the veto of the president made this law inoperative and right now in the year 2018 there is no age limit for reproductive treatment in Ukraine. The social attitude to surrogacy in Ukraine currently is more positive than negative, people started to accept this method of fertility treatment and understand the motives of surrogate mothers in Ukraine. I live in Ukraine and I see the feeling of people towards this topic. Even on TV news programs the voting shows a big acceptance among viewers, about 80% of them answer “yes” to surrogacy in Ukraine.
With a big support and care, I want to say to all intended parents, woman and men looking for a solution in creating a family, please don’t believe everything the media say and check the current information in trusted sources, media can make a big sensation and mix the facts. My personal opinion is that there will be no ban for surrogacy in Ukraine, just legally proper improvements, because the second law project from 19.07.2018 was developed by professionals in this field. All reproductive clinics in Ukraine are working as usual and all are acting according to current law for surrogacy in Ukraine. The scandal with known reproductive clinic may affect the reputation of Ukraine, but I can assure you that all other reproductive clinics are working strictly in accordance with the acting law.
There is also a theory among reproductive providers that it was conducted by a country that is interested in the loss of reputation for Ukraine, where surrogacy is affordable and reproductive treatment such as egg donation, IVF are on a very high professional level and are even more advanced in some ways.
I hope this article was useful and you feel more confident now.
Most people, who consider PGD/PGS within fertility program, want it for gender selection. Indeed, this convenient possibility to choose the gender of your future child is fabulous! No wonder it’s growing in popularity. But gender selection is not the only reason for doing this procedure. What are the things you have to know about PGD? 5 chromosomes PGD or 24 chromosomes PGD, what is the difference? Are there any risks, is it dangerous? Do you still need it if you don’t require sex selection? We’ll try to cover all these questions in our article.
What is PGD/PGS?
PGD stands for “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis”. It is also often called PGS – “Preimplantation Genetic Screening”. As the name suggests, this procedure is conducted before an embryo is transferred into the woman’s womb in order to test it for genetic diseases. During this procedure the specialist can also determine the sex of the developing embryos, that’s why it is often used for the purpose of gender selection. The gender selection may be used in order to prevent the inheriting of genetic diseases and for family balancing.
PGD makes success rate higher!
The first thing you have to know is that including PGD will improve the IVF success rates of your fertility program. PGD testing makes it possible to transfer only healthy biological material by checking the number and the look of chromosomes, which helps to prevent still pregnancies, miscarriages, malformations in the fetus, organ pathologies, Down syndrome, Patau syndrome etc. By transferring only healthful and strong embryos it makes the chance of successful, normal and non-problematic gestational period much higher, which is proven by the fertility programs statistics. So even if you don’t think about gender selection, you really should consider PGD as it will make your program more efficient. The PGD cost is rather high, but it is definitely recommended because it makes the number of attempts less and the way to success shorter. That can’t be bad for a budget!
Is PGD safe?
The short answer is yes! But we know that nothing is 100% safe in our world, so how safe is it? It is safe enough for our Dr. Ruslan Sobolev to recommend it to all the intended parents!
But one doctor’s opinion can’t be enough, so it’s good to know that according to the latest researches on this topic, conducted by Dr Sonja Desmyttere, involving the data of hundreds of PGD procedures, it can be called completely safe!
That’s why, taking into consideration all the benefits it offers, we are happy to recommend this option to all our clients.
5 chromosome PGD or 24 chromosome PGD/PGS?
Technically there are two methods of PGD:
The 5 chromosome PGD method performs analysis of 5-10 chromosome pairs. This is sufficient for gender selection and general genetic testing, but the researches show that this method does not really improve the outcomes. Generally, we don’t recommend this method, though it can be an option if you only need gender selection.
The 24 chromosome PGD performs analysis of all 24 pairs of chromosomes, which can greatly improve the chance of successful implantation and live birth of a healthy child. According to studies, the success rates can be twice higher with 24 chromosome PGD. And, of course, gender selection is also available.
Big brother and little sister
Which is the best PGD method to choose?
The 24 chromosomes genetic testing is definitely better, because it allows to discover the healthiest and potentially successful embryos for transfer. When our intended parents ask about the possibility to do the PGD within a surrogacy program in Ukraine, I always offer this test as a fast way to a successful pregnancy. The combination of a healthy young proven egg donor, experienced Ukrainian surrogate mother, specialists in reproductive treatment, best embryologists and such testing, which is done in Ukraine or abroad makes the success possible from 1-3 tries.
Though I can fully understand future parents when they want to skip this test giving the chance to all embryos to naturally go into development. In some cases, even PGD is not a guarantee of a result, there are a lot of factors that play a big role in the success of a fertility program. If a couple does genetic screening to an embryo only to find out the gender of the future baby, 5 chromosomes PGD screening is enough and this test is not so expensive as the 24 one.
There are a lot of possibilities to increase chances. PGD is one of them
95% of our couples do the pre-implantation diagnosis for the embryo and I see the obvious difference in success rates. With PGD it goes up to 70% for a transfer of 2 tested embryos and chances to get twins are higher as well. This advice can be inspiring for IPs that are dreaming about twins. It is very popular to transfer 2 embryos, one boy and one girl together at the same time. PGD for a planned twin pregnancy is more than recommended, because if one embryo is good and another will have problems in development, so the risk for a miscarriage is higher and the twin pregnancy might be problematic.
I hope this information and my thoughts on this topic will help you decide and think on “do I need PGD testing in IVF treatment?”. It always a choice of Intended Parents but having such a powerful science technique in your disposal and not use it, is a loosing of a chance.