The decision to share eggs with another woman is an act of kindness we see daily at London Egg Bank. It is a remarkable thing to enable others to experience the joy of becoming a parent, and our egg recipients are often overwhelmed with gratitude, excitement and hope at the prospect of being one step closer to this.
Egg donors are an integral part to our work. With an average age of 24, they come from all walks of life, yet all are university educated and have UK residency. It is hugely important that their experience of the donation process is a positive and enriching one for all sides. With this in mind, London Egg Bank recently conducted a survey of our successful egg donors to find out their thoughts on their own experience.
Contacting more than 450 women, we asked a variety of questions to determine how these donors felt – about donating their eggs, about the medical process itself and about their impressions of the clinic.
The results, presented at the UK Fertility 2020 conference held in Edinburgh in January 2020, were overwhelming. Every single donor expressed satisfaction at having participated in helping others. In fact, from all those who responded, more than three quarters of donors have considered or have already completed a second round of egg donation.
100% of recipients found the facilities good or excellent, with 99% approving of their welcome at the clinic. We routinely conduct fertility assessments of all potential egg donors, and 85% felt that their own results were unsurprising (see Figure 1). For the 10% who were surprised at their fertility prospects, London Egg Bank referred these women to our sister centre in the same building, London Women’s Clinic, for further discussions.
Importantly, a minority of donors felt there could be improvement with their experience post egg collection. With this in mind, London Egg Bank has therefore adopted new policies for after-care in terms of enhanced support prior to safe travel home. Each donor is cared for at the clinic until they can be chaperoned home to help with their comfort and safety after the retrieval process.
The second change we have made is that all egg donors will be offered a free fertility health check-up within two years of the donation process, where they can have their current fertility status reviewed while discussing relevant options. (see Figure 2)
No need to travel abroad
London Egg Bank has spent the past eight years working with UK-based egg donors to build the largest egg bank in the country with close to 5,000 donor eggs waiting to be chosen by would-be parents. With such a growing collection of donor eggs from a mixture of cultures and ethnic backgrounds, we have ensured that potential parents no longer need to travel abroad in order to find a suitable egg donor – something which was a common albeit laborious and expensive process up until a few years ago.
Egg donation and UK law
There are very strict laws in the UK surrounding the process of egg donation, meaning that egg donors can only be paid £750 to cover their basic costs – these women are not doing this for money, but as a way to offer others the chance to start a family. The donation process is anonymous, but donors must agree to remain traceable later in life when, at age 18, the children born from their donated eggs gain the legal right to access identifying information about their donor. Studies show this is very important for the wellbeing of the children, however it may not be possible, or even legal, to achieve this if the treatment is undertaken at an overseas clinic.
For us, our egg donors are the key to enabling so many of our clients to start a family. It is therefore hugely important that we can provide these women with a positive experience of London Egg Bank, allowing more and more recipients to find high-quality donor eggs from a variety of cultural backgrounds as their first step in the journey to becoming parents.