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Donor Eggs: Do You Know Some of the New Options?


by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, Dec. 3, 2009

An increasing number of women and couples are choosing to start their families in their late 30s and 40s and as a result many are turning to donor eggs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of donor egg cycles has risen from 1,802 attempts in 1992 to 9,575 in 2007 with a 55.2 percent pregnancy rate.

When starting the search for an egg donor, the options can be overwhelming - and expensive. Some fertility clinics have year-long waiting lists to use a donor in their program; others limit your choices to using only their donors and their clinic alone.

What if you want more choice, are looking to save some money, or need a donor quickly? There are some new options.

To help with the search, Nancy Block, a former infertility nurse who ran an egg donor clinic in Chicago, has now launched The Donor Network Alliance as a one-stop shop. The idea behind the DNA is to aggregate a large number of clinics so that patients can look in a broader pool of donors. “Through the years of seeing matches fall through, cycles fail, recipients looking for something very selective and insurance deadlines that make a patient have to find a donor in a matter of weeks, I realized that we need a better system,” she explains.

So far 22 donor agencies are paying to be listed in the DNA and there are 3,000 donors on the site. Potential donor parents can get access for a subscription fee of $49 for two weeks.

There are also a number of new donor egg agencies that are taking advantage of egg freezing technology, which is still considered experimental by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Dr. Daniel Shapiro, the Clinical Director of RBA in Atlanta, says 180 babies have now been born from frozen donor egg cycles in the U.S., of which 112 babies were born at RBA.

Most agencies play matchmaker between the recipient and donor. The donor goes through the retrieval process, and the eggs are fertilized and implanted immediately. These newer frozen egg banks are more like sperm banks. Banks such as RBA of Atlanta, The Donor Egg Bank in Los Angeles and The World Egg Bank in Phoenix, Arizona, offer the option of buying an egg directly from a stock of eggs that have been frozen and stored.

The option allows for a new kind of flexibility: the donor and recipient don’t have to line up their schedules so that the recipient will be physically ready for the transfer of eggs as soon as they are retrieved from the donor. It is also considerably less expensive for the recipient. Instead of the recipient paying for all the donor’s expenses, the clinic covers the medical expenses. "We can provide equivalent pregnancy rates at half the traditional cost,” says Dr. Shapiro. “It’s easier and the patient has more control over the process right out of the gate.”

So the good news is, that as egg donation grows in popularity as a family building plan (and decreases in stigmatization), your choices for how and where you find your donor eggs are increasing. You’ll want to do your homework, but it’s good to have options!

You can learn more about egg donation here:

  • Egg Donation Overview
  • Considering Egg Donation
  • Getting Started
  • Anonymous & Known Egg Donation
  • Egg Donor Screening
  • Process: Donor Perspective
  • Process: Recipient Perspective
  • Shared Egg Donation Cycles


    Rachel Lehmann-Haupt ( is a journalist and the author of In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment and Motherhood (Basic Books, 2009).

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