IVF with Donor Eggs

Selecting a Direct (“Known”) or Non-Direct (“Anonymous”) Donor

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In many countries, an egg donor must remain “anonymous” to the recipient, but in other countries, the intending parents and donor can have a pre-existing relationship.

It’s common for intending parents to consider approaching a sister or cousin of the intending parent who’s not providing sperm. The alternative is to be matched with a donor by a 3rd party, like a clinic or agency. In some countries (U.K.), intended parents can have a known donor donate into the donor pool, which bumps the intended parents up on the donor waiting lists.

Below are the high-level trade-offs as most experts see them. To the positive, working with a Direct Donor means you know this (pivotal) person well and don’t need to rely on a third party to characterize them for you. If the person is a relative, it can allow more intending parents to have a genetic connection to the child. Finally, you’ll remove fees to the donor and agency, which can be sizable, and shorten what can be a protracted search process.

To the negative, if the relationship with a donor deteriorates for any reason, it can create enormous complexity. For this reason alone, many intending parents hesitate to ask a family member or the family member declines. However, even if both parties agree, there’s no guarantee this person will provide as many eggs as a more-vetted donor. The intending parents will need to pay the costs for an egg retrieval (costs vary by country) and need to wait until that person is ready and cleared for the retrieval. For these reasons, if intending parents can find great candidates through a third party, many are happy to go this route.

Generally speaking, we tend to see intending parents gravitate towards looking into “direct donor” options if they have a sturdy relationship with a good donor candidate, if they’re a gay male couple pursuing surrogacy, or if their specifications on race, heritage, or complexion aren’t being met by agencies.