For many women, donor eggs offer the only chance they have to become a mother. There are many reasons why women need donor eggs, including:
- Premature menopause
- Being born without ovaries
- Previously having cancer treatment
- An inability to use their own eggs due to genetic causes
- Repeated lack of success using the IVF program
In Australia, the egg donor process is heavily regulated, resulting in a multitude of legalities and requirements that have to be successfully navigated and adhered to. Below we look at some of these in detail.
Types of Egg Donors
Egg donors fall into two categories based on how they became involved as a donor:
- Known donor – When the recipient and the donor know each other and have an existing relationship. This could be a friend or relative undergoing IVF procedures to provide the eggs. This comes with the benefit of knowing the genetic origin of the eggs and reducing the wait time for treatment.If the donor is aged over 35, there is an increased risk of problems such as miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities. The appropriateness of allowing this risk will generally be at the clinician’s discretion.
- Clinic-recruited donor – When a woman chooses to undergo IVF procedures to provide eggs for another woman she doesn’t know. In this case, the donor has the option to remain unknown to the recipient. However, she is required to consent to the release of identifying information to any child conceived by the donation.There has been a reduction in clinic-recruited donations in Australia, so it is generally encouraged to find a known donor.
Who Can Be An Egg Donor?
Healthy women from any background can donate their eggs as long as they meet the following criteria:
- Aged between 21 and 32 if recruited by the clinic. The suitable age of a known egg donor should be discussed with your specialist
- No history of genetically inherited diseases. Donors will not be accepted if they can pass down an illness, disease or genetic condition to the child conceived from the donation
- Adopted women must be able to provide genetic family history in order to donate
- The partner of an egg donor in a married or de facto relationship must consent to the donation
- Donors recruited by the clinic must provide a permanent address and be contactable for follow-up medical tests
- Donors recruited by the clinic must be eligible for full Medicare benefits in Australia
- A donor-conceived individual is entitled to know who their genetic parents are once they turn 18 (should they want this information). This means donors have to consent to their identifying information being held at the clinic and central register. This information includes name, date of birth, medical and family history and a permanent address.
- Under Australian law, the woman giving birth is the legal mother of any child born. The recipient couple is legally and financially responsible for the child and has full custodial and parental rights. The donor has no legal rights or obligations.
- Egg donors are allowed to withdraw from the process up until the egg has been inseminated with sperm. At this point, the recipient couple is the legal owner of the embryo.
- It is illegal to pay someone or to request money for an egg donation in Australia. All medical expenses are covered by the recipient couple to ensure the egg donor is not out of pocket financially and that all “reasonable” costs (parking, travel, time off work etc.) are covered.
- Each state has varying laws about how much you can donate. In VIC, SA and QLD, you can donate to 10 women and in WA and NSW you can donate up to five. Any children conceived by you count, as does each frozen embryo for the same recipient.
For more information about egg donation and IVF treatment in Victoria, contact our clinic in Melbourne. Dr Alex Polyakov is an IVF specialist with extensive experience helping couples to achieve their parenting dreams.