What are the eligibility requirements to be an egg donor?
Egg donor candidates must be at least 21 and no older than 29. [If you have recently donated successfully and are between 30 and 32 years old, your application may be considered.] Applicants must be US citizens or legal residents, residing in the US.
Egg donor candidates can be of any ethnic or religious background.They must have knowledge of their family medical history. Egg donor candidates must be physically fit with a BMI (body mass index) less than 27. [To calculate BMI, use this online BMI calculator.] Candidates must be non-smoking, in excellent health, mature, and responsible.
NAFG recipient clients typically seek motivated women who are attractive, fit, and well educated (with graduate or college degrees, or in college or graduate school).
NAFG receives many applications, but can only respond to a small percentage of them. When you apply, you will immediately receive an emailed acknowledgement to confirm that it was received. If we can take action on your application, you should receive another email from us within a couple of days.
How does NAFG’s egg donation program work?
NAFG is not a clinic, and no medical procedures take place in our offices. Recipients choose donors from our database, and their donors have the medical work at the recipient’s clinic, which can be anywhere in the US but is typically in the Boston and New York metro areas.
After we review your egg donation questionnaire, you will be interviewed by our egg donor coordinator and we will gather supplemental materials (photos and extended questionnaire). Your profile will be posted on our private, password-protected database, accessible to NAFG clients only. Each donor has a code that does not reference your name in any way; there will be three current photos and a paragraph describing basic physical characteristics, educational background and other general biographical details. If a recipient is interested in your profile, we will send the non-confidential portions of the questionnaires, along with any extra photos.
How long does the egg donation process take?
Once your profile is posted, we wait for a recipient to choose you. This can take a few weeks to a few months; it is impossible to predict. For most recipients, physical resemblance is the most important criterion, so it is a matter of luck.
Once you are selected, we will contact you immediately for information on your availability and schedule. We will accommodate your schedule as best we can. Once the match is official, the whole process takes about three months from start to finish. There is a lot of down time in between steps, but you should be accessible for communication with the clinic and NAFG throughout.
What medical procedures are involved?
Once matched, every donor needs to be screened. The screening process is not painful or difficult. Although every clinic has slightly different protocols, most require some preliminary hormone blood tests (sometimes timed with your menstrual period) and perhaps an ultra sound of your ovaries, to make sure all is healthy and normal.
Once those preliminary tests results are done, there will be a genetic, psychological, and medical component to your screening. The clinic will take blood to test for genetic and infectious diseases and give you a drug screen, you will have a written psychological test (the MMPI or PAI) and have an interview with the psychologist/ social worker, and talk to the geneticist to review family medical history.
It can take two to four weeks for all the results to come in. There will not be much for you to do at this time, although the clinic may start you on birth control pills in the interim. Most donors pass their screenings; if you do not; the clinic will provide the reason.
The donation process takes about three weeks; first they will suppress your cycle with hormones, then stimulate your cycle with other kinds of hormones. It is nearly identical to the IVF process that thousands of women have gone through to get pregnant with their own eggs, so it is generally a routine procedure.
You will begin by taking birth control pills and sometimes the hormone suppressant Lupron. After about ten days of the Lupron, you will go into the clinic for a quick blood test and sonogram to make sure you are ready to start. This test will take place early in the morning, typically before 9AM, in order for the clinic to get results by the same afternoon. This appointment will take about a half hour. Then you will start the stimulation medications, administered by injection every morning. These injections do not hurt and the clinic teaches you how to do them. Then for about twelve days thereafter, you will be going back to the clinic for monitoring appointments every other day or so. These appointments take about a half hour and are done early in the morning: you will have a blood draw to test your hormone levels, and they will give you an ultrasound to measure the growth of your ovarian follicles. When there are enough mature follicles, the retrieval will be scheduled. The retrieval typically occurs on the twelfth day of the stimulation period, although it can be a day or two earlier or later. You will know which day your retrieval will occur two days before the actual procedure.
The actual retrieval takes about fifteen-twenty minutes, but you will need to arrive at the clinic about an hour ahead of can leave about an hour after, You will be lightly sedated, and using the sonogram screen to guide them, the doctors extract the fluid out of each follicle vaginally with a long thin needle. You will not feel any pain during the procedure. Afterwards, you should rest for the day.
What is the time commitment?
Overall, egg donation requires a series of early morning appointments which take about a half hour and are done by 9 AM. These appointments can take place any day of the week. The screening generally requires three appointments that last an hour each; these are done on weekdays and can occur all in one day or broken up into separate appointments. The retrieval requires a full day off; it can occur any day of the week.
If you are working with a clinic in a different city, you can have your initial hormone testing locally. Then you will need to travel to the clinic for all the rest of your screening, which is scheduled for one day. You would typically be able to have two local monitoring appointments and then travel back to the other city for all the rest of your monitoring and retrieval; you go home the day after the retrieval. This donation trip usually lasts about a week. The travel expenses are covered in advance and arrangements are made for you.
Where do I go for my medical procedures?
You will not know where you will have the medical work until you are matched; we will let you know where your recipients are working at that time. If you are open to travel you may be offered an opportunity in another city.
Am I eligible to be an egg donor if I am using birth control?
Yes. You will be instructed to go off hormone-type birth control (such as the pill, Mirena IUD) when you are matched. But until then, it is fine to be on birth control.
Do I need to live near one of your offices in order to work with your egg donation program?
No. We welcome qualified egg donor candidates from all over the country.
Do I need insurance to be an egg donor?
No, once you finish your screening and before you begin your cycle, a special donor oocyte insurance policy is purchased for you. You do not need insurance, and if you have insurance, no medical costs are charged to your policy.
Does it cost anything to be an egg donor?
No. All your medical, legal, insurance, and travel (if required) costs are paid for in advance.
How do I apply?
Please submit the Egg Donor Application, along with some current photos.
What legal protection do egg donors have?
After an egg donor passes her screening but before the cycle begins, she will have a lawyer review the terms of her egg donor contract. The contract outlines and reinforces the payment of her compensation and travel expenses, and protects the egg donor’s rights. Legal fees are paid for in advance by the recipients.
Do I meet my recipients?
Most of our matches are mutually anonymous; egg donors don’t meet their recipients and the recipients do not meet the egg donors (although they see photos and have information about them). If you want some information about your recipients, we can get that for you. NAFG finds out from both recipient and egg donor what kind of relationship is desired, and we make arrangements accordingly. If you have any specific requests about the kind of recipients you would like to donate to, we will honor them.
What happens to donor eggs after retrieval?
An average egg retrieval yields about 5-20 eggs. The donor’s eggs are then placed in an incubator where they are fertilized with sperm and observed for a few days. If the eggs are fertilized successfully, one or more resulting embryos may be transferred to the uterus of the recipient mother or a gestational carrier. Any fertilized embryos remaining may be frozen for later use by the intended parents.
What happens if I don’t pass my screening?
Most egg donors do pass their screenings, but if you do not, a nurse or doctor will inform you and explain. No compensation is offered to egg donors who do not pass their screenings (but any travel expenses required for the screening trips are paid for).
What are the risks and side effects of these drugs and procedures?
The side effects of the follicle stimulating hormones can be similar to PMS: bloating, tenderness, etc., although everyone responds differently and most tolerate the stimulation easily. The egg retrieval may cause some temporary soreness or cramps that last a few hours, but the procedure itself is not painful. Serious side effects are very rare, and no long-term effects of egg donation have been discovered. Egg donation does not deplete your ovarian reserve. The doctors discuss the full range of risks with each donor at length. To avoid the risk of pregnancy, egg donors must abstain from sexual intercourse during the process.
For an extensive description of the egg donation procedure and its risks, NAFG recommends prospective egg donors consult the guidebook Thinking of Becoming an Egg Donor? prepared by The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law's Advisory Group on Assisted Reproductive Technologies.
Can an egg donor participate more than once?
Yes. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends a maximum of six egg donation cycles per donor. A period of at least three months is recommended between each donation.
We welcome candidates who have already donated; we would request the medical records from any previous donations along with the questionnaires.
Do I find out if my donation results in a successful pregnancy?
Generally no, as part of the mutual anonymity policy. Any more specific requests for information can be outlined in the egg donor contract.
What are NAFG’s credentials? How is NAFG different from other agencies?
The Northeast Assisted Fertility Group is registered with the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) and is licensed by the state of New York. NAFG’s president and founder, Sanford M. Benardo has been a leading assisted reproduction lawyer for many years. He is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the legal professionals group of the ASRM and is past president of the American College of Assisted Reproduction and Adoption Lawyers. NAFG abides by the ASRM’s ethical guidelines for egg donation. Please see the Who We Are page for more information on our staff.
NAFG has a highly selective donor pool of educated women from all over the US (but mostly from the Northeast). We have excellent, long-standing working relationships with the first-rate clinics in the Northeast, who have consistently referred their patients to us for years. We have facilitated hundreds of donor matches.
How much money do egg donors earn?
$12,000, payable immediately after the retrieval of donor eggs. The compensation is paid in one lump sum; donors receive 1099 forms the next year. Previous donors are compensated $15,000.