Certain couples will have reached a clinical stage where their own bodies are not producing the gametes (sperms and eggs) or are producing low quality gametes which is causing infertility or miscarriages. In such cases, doctors suggest couples to look at sperm and egg donation. This was a taboo topic for a long time, but has slowly become more common in the last few years. Sperm and egg donation is also legal in India, as long as certain rules are adhered to.
The four important aspects to be adhered to are
Anonymity – it is mandatory to ensure complete anonymity of the donor and the recipient. Under no circumstance should the gamete donor know about the identity of the recipient couple or the other way. This is essential to ensure further legal and social complications don’t crop up after a few years. Anonymity has to be maintained at all stages, from collection of gametes until transfer of gametes.
GarbhaGudi has partnered with ICMR approved semen banks for donor semen and all of its donor semen for Donor – IUI and other situations needing donor semen are sourced from these semen banks.
For egg donation, GarbhaGudi maintains an extensive database of egg donors. The whole procedure of stimulating these donors and extracting eggs from their ovaries is done in a very confidential manner. At all stages, data is maintained in a “need-to-know” basis. Only those people who critically need to know about the link between the donor and the recipient will be aware of this link. Generally, it is not more than 2 people – the treating doctor and the person preparing the required documentation
Donor Screening – Screening the donor for infectious diseases like HIV, HbSAg etc. is very important to prevent unwanted problems for the recipient couple. Exhaustive lab investigations are done to ensure no such diseases are transmitted to the child. Additionally, semen from authorized semen banks only is used, where the government regulated quarantine periods are maintained and adhered to.
Quality of the gametes – To ensure that the eggs and semen being taken from a donor is of good quality, some basic requirements are to be met.
A semen donor has to undergo a proper semen analysis to ensure equality of semen is as per requirements. Egg donor process is a little more elaborate. All egg donors have to be between 20 to 30 years old, should be married, should have consent from their husbands, should have had a minimum of one child of her own and the child should have reached the age of 2 years and should not have any family history of hereditarily transmitted diseases. Additionally, the lady should not have donated eggs in the last 6 months.
Matching – It is important to match the recipient’s physical characteristics with the donor’s characteristics. The usual attributes that are matched are
Ethnicity (South Indian, North Indian, Caucasian, African etc.)
Height and Skin Color
Color of the eyes and hair
We do NOT encourage or support matching on religion, caste, education, social standing (rich / poor) and other social attributes.
Process of Egg Donation
The following are some situations in which the doctor may suggest a couple to go for donor eggs.
When the ovarian reserve of the lady is very low or zero (including menopause)
When a lady has had multiple failed IVF cycles and the doctor suspects the quality of the egg
When there are known chromosomal anomalies with the eggs
When the ovaries are not responding to treatment due to various reasons
When the doctor advises a couple to go for egg donation, the doctor will also counsel the patients about the need for the same. Once the couple accepts to go ahead with the egg donation program, GarbhaGudi will initiate the process of selecting the egg donor. The steps are as follows
Commercials (Donor charges and screening charges) are explained to the patient
Physical attributes and blood group of the lady are noted down and is matched against the database of donors available at GarbhaGudi.
Shortlisted donors are invited to GarbhaGudi and scans are done to identify the availability of eggs and the general health of the ovaries. If this is as per expectations, then a screening procedure for infectious diseases is carried out on the donors.
The doctor then identifies one donor from the list that is got from step b.
Non-identifiable data about the donor is shared with the recipients (height, weight, blood group, occupation etc.)
This donor is then put on oral medicines, along with the recipient to synchronize their period cycles.
Once both people have synchronized menstrual cycles, stimulation of the ovaries is started for the donor from day 2. The recipient is also put on medication to ensure good health for receiving the embryo.
Between day 12 and 14, eggs are retrieved from the donor and taken into the embryology lab.
Semen sample of the husband is collected on the day of egg retrieval. A back-up sample is also taken a few days prior to the OPU.
In the embryology lab, a senior embryologist will fertilize the donor eggs with the husband’s sperms and then the normal IVF cycle proceeds. Please refer to IVF for more information. The only change being that the embryo transfer is done to the recipient and not to the egg donor.
The donor and the recipient will never meet with each other, nor will they know the names or identity of each other.
Donor payment is collected by GarbhaGudi and paid to the donor after she has recovered and after the doctor is certain that no indications of OHSS or other problems.
Donor data is not recorded in the recipient patient’s files or vice-versa.
Process of Semen Donation
Doctor may suggest donor semen to be used when there is a case of severe male infertility. The following are situations where donor semen may be suggested
The male partner’s semen parameters are not appropriate for successful conception – very low motility, all sperms are physically damaged, low or zero count etc.
When the husband’s sperms are known to have chromosomal anomalies
When the couple of had multiple miscarriages or IVF failures and doctor suspects that the cause is because of bad quality of sperms.
GarbhaGudi gets all its donor semen from ICMR approved semen banks. This ensures good quality processes are maintained for screening donors, collection of semen samples, processing of semen, storage of semen and transport fo the same to the required location. It also ensures that the semen parameters are good. GarbhaGudi also does a second verification on the parameters of the received donor semen to ensure good quality.
To get the semen samples, GarbhaGudi informs the semen bank about the blood group and other physical attributes for which semen sample is needed. Because of the disconnection between the semen bank and the IVF organization, anonymity is much better maintained. GarbhaGudi will never have the data about the identity of the semen donor and the semen bank will never know who the recipient of a particular sample will be.