Every woman is blessed with millions of oocytes (eggs) in her ovaries when she is born. These lay dormant for a long time, springing alive only later, when called upon. Thereon, one oocyte is released per month. Naturally, as a woman ages, the reserve of oocytes in her ovaries depletes. Beyond the age of 40, the surviving eggs in the ovaries present a poor chance of translating into a healthy pregnancy, due to genetic shifts and egg scarcity.
With changing lifestyles, many millennial women attempt to start a family at a later age. Some women struggle for several years to conceive a baby to no avail. The donor oocyte programme can serve as a blessing to such women.
Like a lamp that provides light and lustre to other lamps, there exist women who have had children of their own but wish to donate their surplus oocyte reserve to other women who dream of starting a family. Women who qualify as egg donors are identified by donor gamete banks, screened on various parameters and tested for transmissible viral diseases like HIV, hepatitis B and C and sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis. Following a slew of screening tests, they are classified based on blood group and counseled about the donor programme. If they choose to pursue the programme, they are registered for oocyte donation.
When a couple needs oocytes to achieve a pregnancy, they are directed to a donor bank where an appropriate donor is organised. After a series of checks, the process of oocyte stimulation and retrieval is begun. The entire process is strictly confidential. Following the retrieval, extracted oocytes are fertilised with the sperm of the male recipient and the resulting embryos are graded and transferred in a fresh or frozen cycle. This cycle is carried out by a fertility centre.
A point to note, is that an oocyte donor remains anonymous throughout and relinquishes all rights over the resulting child through a written consent. As per an ICMR recommendation in 2010, donors should be within an age band ranging from 21 and 35 years. Commercial donation is legal in India and a nominal monetary compensation for the donor is usually involved. However, IVF centres typically do not partake in the transactional process between a donor and concerned recipients.
Though donor programmes are usually opted for by older women, they are also a solution for young women whose oocytes are in short supply, who have genetically transferrable diseases or who have lost their ovaries due to surgeries, chemotherapy or other medical routines.
Donor oocyte programmes present a success rate of about 50 to 60%. This is far higher compared to the success rate of 7 to 10% in women with very low oocyte numbers attempting a pregnancy with their own eggs. A high success rate is possible with donated eggs, because the number and quality of eggs are likely to be superior.
There is no reported increase in anomalies in children conceived through donor programmes. The risk of an anomaly is equivalent to that of a naturally conceived child. Recent research suggests that children conceived through donates oocytes may be lighter at birth than children born through one’s own gametes.
On Cloudnine, our donor programmes are enveloped in empathy and efficiency and we strive to make happy families everyday.
Authored by Dr. B Kanchanadevi
Cloudnine Fertility - Chennai