Couples needing a donor egg to achieve a pregnancy are likely to benefit from a new website designed to promote egg donation in Australia.
Fertility specialist Dr Julie Lindstrom, of City Fertility Centre, said the number of egg donors in Australia was extremely low, while demand was increasing because many women were delaying having children until their late 30s or early 40s.
“Many women are partnering later in life or choosing to have children later than previous generations, but with this increase in age of prospective mothers comes a decline in their fertility,” Dr Lindstrom said.
“As a woman ages, the quality of her eggs is reduced. For the infertile woman over 40, the chance of a successful IVF pregnancy and live birth is substantially reduced when using her own eggs, and this is one of the things driving demand for donor eggs.
“Each year we see only a limited number of egg donors through our City Fertility Centre clinics Australia wide. Women in need of donor eggs often seek solutions overseas or miss out altogether.
“Approximately half of patients over 40 who have undergone two completed IVF cycles will remain unsuccessful. Many of them will have problems with egg quality – and they are often very good candidates for a donor egg.”
Egg Donors Australia, a City Fertility Centre initiative, has now launched an active egg donor education program to try to encourage more donors. The new website, www.eggdonorsaustralia.com.au, provides comprehensive information about why there is a need for egg donors, and how to become one.
Donors and recipients of egg donations undergo a series of counselling sessions to ensure they understand the process.
City Fertility Centre counsellor Jodie Housman said donors who came forward usually had a great deal of empathy towards women struggling with infertility.
“They have read up on it or often have a family member or close friend who has been through a great deal on their IVF journey,” Dr Housman said.
“They are usually very kind people whose only wish is to help a couple have a baby.”
Dr Housman said donor recipients often asked why anyone would become an egg donor.
“They quickly come to understand that people who donate eggs are doing so purely to give the gift of life to another family,” she said.
Egg donors must be healthy, aged between 18 and 35 (21 and 35 in Victoria) and permanent residents or citizens of Australia or New Zealand. Citizens from other countries may be considered if they can be traced in future. While the egg donor has no legal responsibilities or rights to the child, she must be willing for her identity to be disclosed when the child turns 18, should the child request this.
“Disclosure is a very important issue that we discuss in counselling,” Dr Housman said. “It’s important for donors to realise that a future child might want to contact them or know who they are; equally, it’s essential for a donor recipient to fully appreciate the legal and ethical issues that may come with a donation of this kind.”
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