Egg Donation Recipients – The Basics

There are many reasons a woman may consider using an egg donor to conceive.  For example, exposure to cancer therapies, disease, genetic abnormalities, absence of ovaries, ovarian failure, or age are all factors that can interfere with a woman’s ability to produce viable eggs for fertilization. When this is the case, your doctor may recommend egg donation as an alternative treatment option.
“Every time we were ready to give up on the process, our doctor got us back on track – the track that led to our baby. We will always remember how your words encouraged us and gave us the strength to stick with it.”
Columbia Fertility Patient
Columbia University Fertility Center offers one of the largest and most successful egg donation programs in the country. As the fertility faculty practice of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, our physicians, coordinators, and laboratory staff are highly skilled in advanced infertility treatments and have exceptionally high standards for donor screening and matching to recipients.  We are proud to have a large and diverse pool of qualified egg donors, which allows many of our patients to find a perfect match expeditiously.

Egg donor options at Columbia Fertility include standard egg donation cycles (eggs retrieved from an anonymous donor are transferred to the recipient) and known egg donation cycles (using a donor known to the recipient).

How Egg Donation Works

Recipient Screening and Preliminary Testing
The patient who will receive the donor egg in order to become pregnant is referred to as the “recipient.” Before treatment begins, the recipient undergoes preliminary testing to determine if egg donation is the right choice for them. This assessment phase includes blood tests, hormonal screening, infectious disease and genetic testing, cervical cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia, and a pap smear. In addition, imaging studies will assess the physical integrity and structure of the uterus; a mammogram and echocardiogram may also be required.

The male partner or sperm donor will also be screened through semen analysis, blood testing, and infectious disease and genetic screening.

Recipient Profile Form
To help the donor team select a suitable egg donor from Columbia Fertility’s donor registry, recipients will be asked to complete a Recipient Profile Form. This form allows recipients to list their physical characteristics, personal histories, and brief personality descriptions. The form also includes a “wish list,” which allows recipients and their partners to list donor characteristics that they require and/or desire.
Donor Selection and Matching Process

Donors who are healthy young women in the New York area are recruited through various avenues such as advertisements and word of mouth and are screened in a comprehensive, multi-step process that includes examination of medical, genetic, ancestral, social, educational and reproductive histories. Recruited donors also consult with a physician and undergo a psychosocial evaluation. Donors do not “sell” their eggs; they are young women who are donating their eggs anonymously and receive compensation for the time, risk and effort invested in donating.

Donors are selected from Columbia Fertility’s donor registry in accordance with a recipient’s profile criteria and are approved by the donor committee. Accepted donors undergo testing as required by the New York State Department of Health. These tests include blood screening for infectious diseases, blood type, genetic screening, and cervical cultures. Approved potential donors are presented to recipients during a scheduled conference call and the physician provides an anonymous, in-depth description of the donor, including physical attributes, family and health history, education, and personality. After the presentation, the recipient has two business days to accept or decline the proposed donor.

How the Cycle Works

The egg Donation cycle uses oocytes (eggs) provided by a donor for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and transfer of embryos to the recipient. The menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient must first be synchronized. Egg donors undergo controlled ovarian stimulation using hormonal medications, while the recipient receives hormone replacement in preparation for transfer. The donor’s response to stimulation is monitored carefully using ultrasound examinations and blood tests. At the appropriate time, the eggs are retrieved from the donor and combined with the sperm (from the male partner or donor) in a laboratory setting to develop embryos. Embryo transfer to the recipient occurs approximately five days after egg retrieval. This is a simple procedure that does not require anesthesia.