Egg donation is the removal of eggs (ova) from one woman (donor) in order to give them to another woman (recipient) for the purpose of establishing a pregnancy in the recipient. The recipient need not have functioning ovaries, but must have a uterus which will be able to carry the pregnancy.
Whereas donated sperm has been used for more than one hundred years to treat otherwise uncorrectable male infertility, it is only in recent years that egg donation has been technically possible. With the advent of in vitro fertilization techniques, it is now possible to remove the eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilize them with sperm in the laboratory. The developing embryo can then be placed in a uterus where hopefully implantation and pregnancy will occur.
In egg donation, the eggs from a donor female are fertilized in the laboratory with sperm from the recipient’s male partner. Following fertilization, the embryo (which contains the genetic material of the recipient’s male partner and the donor) is transferred into the recipient’s uterus where implantation and pregnancy may occur.
Donors fall into two basic categories – directed donors and anonymous donors:
- A directed donor is a woman who donates eggs to a specific recipient, with whom she may be related or acquainted.
- An anonymous donor is a woman who donates eggs without regard to or knowledge of the recipient.