After marrying the man of her dreams and traveling the world, Edwina and her husband were ready to start a family. But already past age 40, with a history of fibroids, surgeries and miscarriages, the couple knew it would be a difficult road. A patient of The Reproductive Medicine Group, Edwina was diagnosed with fibroids over a decade ago, and underwent several surgeries to remove them. She underwent two unsuccessful cycles of IVF using her own eggs. She admits she was left tired, disappointed and wondering if her dreams of motherhood would ever come true.
“I always wanted to be a mother,” she says. “I always wanted to have the experience of giving birth. But I didn’t know if it was ever going to happen. I was really ready to give up.”
But her doctors encouraged her to try once more, this time, using an egg from a donor fertilized with her husband’s sperm. Edwina agreed. She became pregnant with twins with her first cycle.
“I have two beautiful, healthy boys because someone gave me the gift of life,” she adds. “Someone helped to make my dreams of motherhood come true. How can I ever thank her and my doctors enough?”
Serving the Tampa Bay area for more than 30 years, The Reproductive Medicine Group was among the first practices to establish a donor egg program which they developed into among the most experienced and successful programs in the region. Last year, 78% of the 46 patients who received donated eggs became pregnant, says Cindy Phillips, The Reproductive Medicine Group’s special services coordinator in charge of the donor egg program.
Egg donation has brought hope to thousands of families who once thought they might be unable to conceive. As women enter their late 30s into their 40s, there is a natural decline in egg quality and quantity, which leads to lower pregnancy rates, Phillips explains. Various illnesses and tobacco use can also adversely affect egg quality.
For a donor egg cycle, eggs from a young, fertile woman are inseminated with sperm from the recipient’s husband/partner or with donor sperm using in vitro fertilization. The resulting embryo is transferred into the recipient woman’s uterus and she gives birth to the baby.
The Reproductive Medicine Group’s donor registry contains profiles of egg donors who are available to be matched with interested recipients. Donors are fully screened and cleared physically, psychologically and emotionally to be candidates to participate in the program. With the exception of couples who bring a family member to donate, the vast majority of egg donations are anonymous and completely confidential.
Egg donation is a sophisticated procedure, Phillips explains. Donors must be at least 20 to 32 years old with a minimum of a high school education, a BMI less than 30 and a family history free of genetic issues and serious medical conditions. They are screened for drug use, genetic disorders and transmittable diseases.
Donors must complete detailed questionnaires and undergo psychological and genetic counseling. They must live within a 60 mile radius of The Reproductive Medicine Group, which has four locations throughout the greater Tampa Bay/Pinellas area.
“We ask a lot of questions,” says Phillips, who meets one-on-one with each donor. “And we are very picky. There are clinics that have more donors than recipients. We don’t. We have specific criteria and strict standards for our donors such that only two out of ten potential donors who express an interest in participating are accepted into our program.”
Since egg donors are local, no photographs are shared with recipients so they remain anonymous. Phillips, however, takes notes of the donor’s characteristics so she can closely match them with potential recipients.
“Characteristics including eye color, hair color, facial features, athleticism, as well as any other criteria that might be important to the recipient,” she adds. “We do a great job with our matching. Frequently our patients return with their child and comment that they are told how much their baby looks like them or their relatives. My goal is for the child to be a match with his or her family. In reality, the priority is to restore a couple’s opportunity to experience and nurture a pregnancy, deliver a healthy child, and share the love and joy of becoming a parent.”
Donor egg recipients also are required to meet certain criteria. They must be medically healthy and age 50 or younger. They must be tested to ensure their uterus responds to hormone therapy and can build the appropriate lining for implantation to occur.
Women using donated eggs must also have certain cancer screenings and meet with a psychological counselor to help them work through emotional issues that could arise from a pregnancy with donated eggs.
Edwina says she thinks of her donor every day. Each time she holds her baby she thanks God for her generosity.
“This is my dream come true”, says Edwina. “This is such an incredibly selfless act for someone to donate her eggs to help a stranger’s dream become reality. What a blessing she has been to our lives. I hope more women come forward and donate their eggs to give others a chance to have a family.
If you have questions about our Egg Donor program or if you would like to give the gift of life by becoming an egg donor, please contact The Reproductive Medicine Group at (813) 676-8858 or (813) 676-8845.
For more information on how our team can help, please call The Reproductive Medicine Group at 813.914.7304. Also, join our community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReproductiveMedicineGroup or on Twitter @ReproMedGroup or Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/rmgfertility.