Donors take note: This is the how the medical stuff works. If your eyes start glazing over, sorry! It is important that we tell you all of this stuff. Pay attention, there will be a quiz after class. Ok, not really. But it is important that you understand how it all works. We will go over it again when we have our 1 on 1 chat.
Stage One: Selection/Screening
The first step is to complete a detailed application. The application asks for information on your family health history, interests, education, employment and fertility information. We protect your anonymity through out the process, and your identifying information in the application (name, address, etc.) is deleted, and a confidential pseudonym assigned.
The donor profiles are placed on a password protected section of our website where prospective recipients will see a mini-biography and childhood photographs of you.
Once a Recipient selects you, the Donor Coordinator will call and/or email you to advise you and confirm your availability.
The pre-cycle screening will include a one hour Doctor appointment (which includes a pelvic examination, ultrasound and blood tests) and an hour’s consultation with a psychologist.
Stage Two: Synchronization and Stimulation
(The process may vary slightly between clinics)
Once all parties are screened, you will be started on a low dose birth control pill. The purpose of taking the pill is to help get your cycle synchronized with the recipient’s cycle.
Approximately 2 months after your initial appointment with Doctor and psychologist- you will begin the actual donation process laid out below:
DAY 1: Menstrual cycle begins.
DAY 3: Start medication (daily injection)
DAY 8 – DAY 12: First, second & third scans with the Doctor (these appointments are approximately half an hour).
DAY 14: Ovum pick up (you will have to take this day off). This day cannot be scheduled to happen on a specific date.
*This is only a guideline and is not fixed as eggs grow at their own rate.
Monitoring: Vaginal ultrasounds are performed to monitor the growth and development of the follicles and to minimize the possibility of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). During the +-14 days that you are on the medication, frequent ultrasound’s need to be performed. (+-4 visits to the clinic)
Ultrasounds allow the physician to obtain an image of the follicles as they grow and develop in the ovaries. Both the number and size of the follicles can be determined by ultrasound, which is essentially a painless procedure. You may feel the pressure of the transducer in your vagina; however, this is not harmful to either your organs or the developing eggs.
Your final injection initiates the final stage of maturation and timing of the egg retrieval.
Watch a video on how to inject yourself with the hormone medication:
For information about how to inject yourself with the Gonal F pen, please download this handy instruction sheet: Gonal F pen instructions
Stage Three: Egg Retrieval
The egg retrieval will occur about 36 hours after the final injection. Egg retrievals are usually scheduled early in the morning (between 7:30 a.m. and noon). The method by which the eggs are retrieved is an ultrasound directed needle aspiration. This is a procedure, performed under twilight anaesthetic, such that you will be totally comfortable and pain-free. The ultrasound probe with a needle guide is placed in the vagina, which allows an aspiration needle to be inserted through the upper portion of the vagina directly into the ovary. The ultrasound image allows the physician to accurately guide the needle into each follicle for aspiration or “suction”. As the fluid is aspirated, the egg is released and collected in the laboratory.
The retrieval process takes approximately 15-30 minutes. Following the retrieval you are asked to remain at the clinic for one to two hours to recover from the anaesthetic. You must plan on having someone available to drive you home as you have been under the effects of anaesthetic and cannot (by law) drive yourself home or take public transportation. When you are released from the clinic you may resume light daily activities. It is very common to experience some cramping and spotting following the process and the clinic will prescribe the appropriate pain medication. You should avoid unprotected sexual relations seven days prior to the egg retrieval and for two weeks after the retrieval (until you get your next menstrual period).
The donor fee is remitted following the egg retrieval.
Stage Four: Fertilization and Embryo Transfer
Once the eggs are retrieved, the laboratory staff will begin the process of fertilization (the union of the sperm and egg). The retrieved eggs are immediately examined by the embryologist and then placed in a specialized culture medium and allowed to remain there undisturbed for 2-3 hours. A semen sample is then added to the medium containing the eggs. By the following day the eggs will have fertilized. The fertilized egg is now called an embryo. An embryo transfer will usually take place after the embryos have developed in the laboratory for three to five days.