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How Do You Select a Third-Party Donor Agency?

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by Arika Avedano, Senior Case Manager for Northern California and Nevada, The Donor SOURCE, August 16, 2011

If you’re like most intended parents, you’ve spent years (and countless dollars) on artificial insemination/intrauterine insemination (IUI), then in vitro fertilization (IVF). In many ways, you may feel like a pro when it comes to infertility. You’ve been poked and prodded, and you've had more ultrasounds than you can count. You know where to find the fastest — and least expensive — pharmacy. You know exactly how much Gonal F you can take before you start feeling like someone other than your favorite self.

So, it’s no surprise that you stop short when your fertility doctor suggests an egg donor.

This is uncharted territory for you.

More than likely your fertility doctor will provide you with a list of third party agencies that s/he has worked with. But does that mean they’re good? Does that mean they know what they’re doing? Does that mean they educate their donors? With questions like these, what do you do from here?

It’s a well know fact that most third party agencies are unable to perform medical testing on their egg donors — this means the donors have not undergone hormone, FDA or genetic testing. But don’t fret! A good agency will do as much pre-screening as possible, and it will work with you to complete some basic testing (E2, FSH, resting follicle count) prior to matching, if you so choose.

I can not stress enough how important it is for you, the client, to feel comfortable with all parties involved in your medical treatment. Whether you’re doing an egg donor IVF cycle, having LASIK surgery, or getting your hair done, you must have confidence in who you are allowing to work with you. Here are some helpful things to be on the lookout for when selecting a third party agency:

  • Someone who answers your call (or email), but not just the first time. Be wary of agencies that are initially responsive, but by your third or fourth question, take longer than one business day to respond.
  • A friendly staff. Anyone can answer a phone call or an email, but is the person on the other end making you feel like you’re wasting their time? Questions are a very important part of all medical procedures, and donor IVF is no different.
  • An agency that is happy to share their contracts with you at any point. No agency should keep their agreements hidden until you’ve fallen in love with an egg donor. Contracts are complex, legally binding documents, and if you would like weeks to review and understand them at your leisure, you should be permitted this.
  • An employee willing to meet with you. Many large agencies have satellite offices and staff located throughout the areas where they work. If they don’t, then they should be willing to work with you to help ensure you feel confident with them.
  • Someone who will work with you, and the clinic, if any problems arise. It is NOT solely the responsibility of the clinic to work through any issues that come up during the course of a cycle.

With these tips in mind, your hunt for a third party agency will hopefully be less of a daunting experience. Just remember to be patient, as well as diligent in your quest for answers and information. And if you find yourself unsure of a certain agency’s policies or work ethic, always remember there are other agencies that may better suit you. Choosing the right agency to help you through this long and arduous process is almost as important choosing the right donor.

Remember — the best things in life are often the most difficult to ascertain.


Arika Avedano, The Donor SOURCE's Senior Case Manager for Northern California and Nevada, has worked extensively in both the medical and third-party reproductive fields. She has experience assisting ovum donors and intended parents in all capacities of the egg donation and surrogacy process. Arika's exceptional communication skills and commitment to professionalism guide our clients through the remarkable experience of egg donation with compassion and efficiency. Arika feels privileged to unite donors with intended parents and assist in the beautiful process of building a family.

Comments (3)

Sound advice for hopeful parents both in the article and the following comments. Making certain to take time to feel out an agency (or better yet, a few different agencies), review their contracts and determine who you are most comfortable with is an excellent process. Every interaction you have along the way to building your family should be with people who support your process. Even though some of it may feel overwhelming or time consuming (reading contracts, etc) it is truly the best way to not only achieve your goals but protect yourself as well.

D Alishouse
This has been posted on behalf of the fertility clinic American Health Network Reproductive Medicine, a Reproductive Endocrinologist in Indianapolis supporting Egg Donation in Indianapolis. The information is not medical advice, and should not be treated as such. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

A great start, good information but prospective parents would also do well to understand that engaging an agency is a business relationship, so matters like how the agency will handle the client's deposited funds (a 3rd party escrow account is usually advised), how records of the egg donation cycle will be maintained, long term and other practical but important considerations should also be kept in mind. When advising a client on donor selection, I first discuss the business practices of agencies, typically matters the very hopeful parent has overlooked while so desperately pursuing successful family building.

With respect to an agency's service agreement (that contract that the prospective parent will enter into w/the agency), if time allows, the client should review w/his or her attorney.

its great article from you..., The egg donor is an important participant in the process of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer for the intended parents

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