The Dizzying World of Egg Donation

Yay today is the first day of my 16-day vacation for the holidays!  I was rebellious and went to bed at midnight (which is very late for someone who is usually in bed by 9:45).  I had been working very hard at work to get everything finished so I can thoroughly enjoy my time off.  I can proudly say that I completed all the tasks that I intended.  Since I am done doing that, what’s left to do?  Let’s see… Well, I do have an appointment with the donor coordinator at my current clinic on Monday.  I think that I’ve got to come up with a list of questions for her, right?

Yeah egg donation has been on my mind.  I know we’re pursuing our last cycle or possibly last two cycles with my own eggs.  So I am still hopeful that our batch of embryos may yield one healthy pregnancy.  However, I am a realist and I think about the future.  I have read one book so far about egg donation.  Kimberly recommended another one so I’ve been reading it.  I am so glad I listened to her and purchased the book.  It really helps me to think about various issues one should consider before making a decision to pursue egg donation.  It also helps me formulate some questions in my mind before I approach various fertility clinics regarding donor egg cycles.  So what kind of questions or concerns do I have for my current clinic?

The most important thing to consider is whether there are Asian donors in the donor pool for the clinic.  I know that we can always find an agency to search for an appropriate Chinese donor for us.  However, given the high cost of donor egg cycles, I would LOVE to save that money and work directly with the clinic on their donors.  Paying extra for an agency is going to diminish our chance of pursuing more than one cycle.  To see if there is even a chance of finding Asian donors, I signed up to get access to donor databases with various fertility clinics around the country.  I am quite bummed that many of the clinics on the west coast do not have any or many Asian donors.  San Diego Fer.tility Cl.inic has a few Asian donors but none of them are Chinese.  A well known clinic up in Oregon had none.  Another clinic on the east coast where Maddie cycled with also had no Asian donors.  I thought that deciding on using donor eggs is tough enough.  I didn’t know that trying to decide on donor eggs while being Chinese is a even tougher situation.

I finally wrote the donor coordinators at my current clinic about their program.  They offer cycles with fresh donor eggs and frozen donor eggs.  The cost of fresh cycles is probably about $15,000 higher than frozen eggs.  But I don’t know how many eggs are guaranteed, so this is something I definitely have to explore.  I was given access to their donor database.  I was actually pleasantly surprised that they do have a few Asian donors.  If I am keen on only Chinese donors, then I will definitely have to pay extra money for an agency to find a donor for us.   Since I really don’t what to pay that money, and ever since I learned how hard it is to find a Chinese donor, I started to look at donors who are of mixed ancestry.  There are quite a few of them.  But do I really want my child to have some Caucasian blood in him?  How about other Asian heritage such as Korean or Japanese?  What about the height?  I always thought that the donor’s height is very important to me because that’s what people would first notice about me.  Being 5’8″, I would like to find a donor who is 5’6″ or taller.  In the world of egg donation, especially with Asian donors, this seems to be very hard to accomplish.  Many of them are below 5’3″.  Some are even below 5′.  I am not saying that they are not good potential donors, but height is important to me.  Because of the difficulty finding one, I think I have mentally relaxed my criteria a bit and will consider someone who is 5’4″ and up.  On the U.CSF donor database, all of the Asian donors are marked “on hold” or “in cycle”.  There is not a single donor that is marked “available”.  Apparently I am told in the coordinator’s email that I should just ignore those words.  When I am ready to find a donor, I am to write an email to one of the coordinators and ask how long of a wait it is for a particular donor for a cycle.  But yeah, even in San Francisco, a hugely multicultural city, it is still difficult to locate a Chinese donor.

And then there is the question of doing fresh cycle vs. frozen egg cycles.  In a frozen cycle, the clinic usually guarantee six to eight mature eggs.  That would realistically yield one to two good day-five embryos.  But nothing is guaranteed.  A fresh cycle is a lot more expensive, but the donor may yield more than ten eggs, which would increase the chance of higher number of embryos and some embryos for freezing.  Since we want two children, fresh cycles seem to be a good choice.  But what if the fresh cycle doesn’t yield enough eggs and in turn only a couple of embryos?  Wouldn’t that be like a frozen egg cycle?  I guess a guarantee program comes into play.  Some clinics’ guarantee programs ensure that you have a live birth or a portion of the fees would be refunded to the couple.  The cost of guarantee programs is usually really high, but it helps to ease a couple’s mind because there is the insurance of several tries.  However, you also pay a high sum of money if the first cycle is successful.  I have seen many of my blog friends who got pregnant on their first donor egg cycle.  I have also seen many of other blog friends and online forum ladies who have to try multiple times before they could get pregnant.  So every step and every decision is a gamble.  How do you weigh each to make a decision?  It’s dizzying to wrap my mind around it.  I don’t think my current clinic offers a guarantee program, so all the money spent on the cycle would be gone if there is no baby in the end.  I also know that the clinic partners with some outside programs to offer guarantee programs.  This is one of the questions I’ll have to ask the donor coordinator.  S.DFC offers a guarantee program but with my surgery to remove my fibroids and my multiple failed IVF cycles, I am not so sure if I’d qualify for the program.  Plus they don’t have as many choices for Asian donors for me as U.CSF.

When it comes to choosing a donor, sometimes I wish I were Caucasian?  Isn’t that crazy?  There are so many Caucasian donors everywhere.  Asian donors are a hot commodity.   If I were a Caucasian, I could go anywhere.  But I am not, so I’ll have to scratch that idea.

So yeah, I will come up with my list of questions and learn as much about the donor program at my current clinic as much as possible.  In terms of my current cycle, I am on cycle day 13 today.  Since I’ve been having retrievals on cycle day 14, I didn’t think that I’d ovulate any time earlier than cycle day 11.  Imagine my surprise when my basal body temperature jumped yesterday, on cycle day 12.  That means that I most likely ovulated on cycle day 11.  And guess what?  Bob and I didn’t time things well. We baby danced on cycle day 7 and were too busy or tired to do anything on cycle day 8, 9, 10, or 11.  When I woke up with a big temperature shift, I almost cursed out loud.  We missed the window!!  Not that I thought that we would get pregnant miraculously on our month off.  But I still wanted to try our best to catch the egg.  So we did it after the fact but we were one whole day late.  Oh well.  I was tracking my ovulation not so much for catching the egg but to gauge when I should start taking Estrace for priming.  I guess one good thing about ovulating early is that I can start my next cycle early.  If I did indeed ovulate on cycle day 11, I am looking at AF coming on 12/31, 1/1, or 1/2.  I hope my period doesn’t come any earlier than that because of our holiday trip to the coast from 12/28 to 12/31.  I don’t want to cut my trip short just for the baseline ultrasound.

For those of you who have used an agency for your donor egg cycles, was it really pricey?  Are there any tips you can share with me?  Thanks in advance for your help.

I’ll let you all know what I learn after Monday.  Have a great weekend!

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29 thoughts on “The Dizzying World of Egg Donation

  1. Wowzas girlie! So much to think about! I am hoping that all this is unncessary as your own eggs will bring home your miracle baby. Sending you hugs and praying God gives you His wisdom and peace as you research and move forward. Xo

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  2. I know with many of the frozen egg banks, it was possible to reserve a second batch of eggs from that donor if you had success and wanted a sibling later. Food for thought!

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  3. There were two west coast clinics with either own egg donor roster (SMF) or a pool of donors they work with (one of the seattle clinics? Im sorry I don’t remember better) and a NW bank (they have two names one of which is Can.Am the other has NW and cryo in it if I recall correctly) who had Asian donors though I cannot speak to how many were Chinese specifically. The former do frozen and fresh and shared cycles as they are not just a bank. I’m sure you have tried all of these but if not and can’t figure out my cryptic comment please email me and I will share whatever I can to help.

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  4. My head is spinning just from what you’ve shared. I think you’re smart to be preparing for a donor egg cycle, especially after seeing how many choices (or lack of) you have! I never imagined you’d have so much trouble finding a Chinese donor in San Francisco.

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  5. I hear you–well, not with the DE, but definitely with the DS. Although we lucked out in finding ours and DS is way more portable.

    Did I tell you to maybe try Shady Gr.ove in DC for DE cycles? I know they have a guarantee program. I’m not sure if they have any asian donors, but maybe. It’s a huge metropolitan area (although if you’re struggling in the Bay Area, my hopes aren’t high for DC), so there’s a chance Also, what about clinics in Seattle? I know nothing about the clinics in Seattle, but there is a large Asian population there.

    Sorry about ovulating unexpectedly early; I know we want to take advantage of every opportunity, long shot or not :(.

    Also, can you send me the names of the books you’re reading? Now that it looks like we may indeed have a DE baby, I think it might be time for me to start reading about it…

    Huuuuuuuuuugggggs and enjoy your 16 days! That’s awesome.

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    • I looked into Shady Gro.ve. They do have a nice guarantee program. I will have to look into it more. Maybe get access to their donor database. Oh I included the names of those books if you click on the links. If not, I’ll send them to you. Hope you’re having a wonderful time doing whatever you’re doing!

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  6. I really appreciated this post. I know we are coming at some of these questions from a different perspective, as we are perusing adoption, but yet so much of your thoughts feel similar to our thoughts as we work through our adoption criteria.
    I smiled when I read “When it comes to choosing a donor, sometimes I wish I were Caucasian? Isn’t that crazy?.” We’ve thought the same thing about sometimes wishing either one of us were not Caucasian to more easily open doors to more races. I guess, I just really appreciated the struggle you are facing.

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    • Thank you for your comment. I feel like regardless of what situation you’re in, and what stage you’re at, there are always so many questions to ponder. Some people like to just choose something and move on. I can’t really do that. I have to consider all that I have to consider in my head and weigh everything before I make a decision. It’s tiring at times, but it’s just how I work. It’s interesting that you have had the similar thought of wishing yourself to be other races. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?

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  7. I know going through all of this is so hard. And your wants are not to be minimized in anyway! Do not let go of the traits you want. Do not settle…especially on those things that are most important to you. Your heart will tell you when you’ve found your right match. Have you looked at Shady Grove at all? I know they are east coast (well the one clinic I went to) but they have an incredible money back guarantee program. And no I’m not Asian but for some reason I did look at their Asian donors…at the time I was cycling they had 3 available. Now mind you they’re donor database changes daily as the minute someone is reserved they are removed.
    Some questions to ask…
    Will they do a mock cycle prior to transfer?
    Steroids prior to transfer?
    What about antibiotics for you and Bob before transfer?
    Any opinions on an endometrial scratch test the month prior to transfer?
    What happens if there is an issue mid stim…will they cancel the donor or push on with an ER then freeze the embryos? (I dropped my lining the day before retrieval with my first donor…awful!)
    What is there fertilization rate with donor eggs and no issue sperm?
    %25-%75?
    Can you have past in house donor cycle information? Ie..success, number of eggs retrieved, any frozens, etc…

    You pretty much want any and all information you can get so you can make an educated decision on whether this is the clinic for you and your money. You really have to try to leave the emotion out of it for these appointments. Trust me…I blew $32k…if I’d only asked a few of these questions I would’ve saved us an entire year of heartbreak.

    Wishing you all my best.
    Karen (ks)

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    • Wow thank you so so much for sharing your experiences with me. Your comment was so invaluable that I based some of my questions on what you wrote. Someone else mentioned about Shady Gro.ve. I looked into it and did see their great guarantee program. I will look more into it. Some of the questions you asked are very interesting. Something that I had never thought of, such as cancelation if there is an issue mid stim or endometrial scratch. So may I ask why I would need steroids before transfer? Anyhow, thanks so much and I’ll go over to your blog and take a look. Thanks again!

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  8. I’m so thrown by how complicated this all is. Wishing that you dont have any difficult choices ahead (hoping for success with your own embryos) and if not, then wishing the decisions come easily.

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    • Yup at first I thought that the world of IVF was complicated enough. Nope. The world of egg donation as an Asian woman is very very complicated. Thanks so much for your comment and support!

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  9. Its so crazy that’s it’s so hard to find Asian donors in San Francisco?! It’s Not like you’re in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere? So many tough decisions but hoping so much they’ll lead you to your baby x

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  10. Wow, I had no idea you would have such a hard time finding an Asian egg donor. I hope you won’t need to go down this road, but it’s good to get some research under your belt anyway.

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