|There are few gifts greater than the gift of parenthood.|
The average length of time from signing up to be a donor and being matched with a couple varies greatly. The average is 6-9 months.
After you are matched, these are the steps involved in donating:
After a donor is matched with a recipient couple she then becomes a patient of that couple's fertility clinic and fertility doctor. A donor's first clinic visit consists of a medical screening and orientation. She will have a consultation with the couple's fertility physician and meet with the clinic staff person who will be coordinating her cycle.
The medical screening consists of a physical exam, a blood draw, and an ultrasound. Donors are tested for genetic diseases, several infectious diseases including HIV, hepatitis, and several STD's. She will also have her hormone levels tested and an ultrasound of her ovaries.
The orientation consists of a detailed explanation of ovarian stimulation and the egg retrieval procedure. She will also receive a description of all of the medications used. Later on she is given instruction on how to self-administer injectable medications. And of course all of her questions will be answered.
A few weeks after the medical screening the donor and recipient will both receive detailed calendars telling them exactly what to do each day. It will list what medications to take on what days and the dates of all her clinic visits.
Two to four weeks before the donation cycle begins both the donor and the recipient are placed on birth control pills in order to synchronize their menstrual cycles.
When the eggs are retrieved from the donor, fertilized and transferred to the recipient as embryos the recipient needs to be mid-cycle so that her uterine lining is at its thickest so that the embryo will implant.
After a few weeks of being on the Pill and synchronizing the cycles of the donor and recipient, they will both discontinue the birth control pills. The donor will begin the injectable medications in preparation for the egg retrieval.
The donor will take injectable medications for approximately two to three weeks. She will take follicle stimulating hormones (also known as "FSH meds") and an ovulation suppressant.
The brand names of the FHS medications used are Folli-stim, Gonal-F, Repronex, Menopur, and others. They are all various forms of follicle stimulating hormones.
Clinics will also use either Lupron or Ganerelix to prevent the eggs from being released from the donor's ovaries as would normally happen each month with ovulation.
The exact length of time that the donor is on injectable medications will depend on the protocol used by the clinic and on how the donor's body responds. Donors are monitored very closely while on medications. Monitoring visits consist of a blood draw and an ultrasound of her ovaries, and they take about 15 to 20 minutes. Donors will have a total of 4 to 6 visits monitoring visits while they are on injectable medications.
After about 10 to 12 days of FSH meds the eggs will be mature and ready to be retrieved. The physician will use the monitoring visits to make the determination as to when the eggs are ready to be retrieved.
The retrieval procedure itself takes about 20 minutes. The entire clinic visit that day takes about 1½ to 2 hours. The donor is given intravenous sedation so that she is asleep for the procedure, and the eggs are retrieved through a catheter. Many donors feel completely normal by the time they get home, but some feel bloated and/or tired after the procedure so it is recommended that she rest for the remainder of the day.
All of this information will be reviewed again in detail if and when you meet with us here at SFDN, and when you are matched and go to the couple's clinic.
You are also welcome to call if you have questions.