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IVF with donors eggs - effective solution in special circumstances

Years of efforts, attempts, invested money, struggling and emotions... Unfortunately, sometimes even the most advanced IVF techniques bring no results, and the only hope of a child is in obtaining an egg cell from a donor. In some circumstances, IVF with donor eggs is the best solution.

The couples who start fertility treatment rarely consider in advance the necessity of using donor sperm or eggs during their efforts for a child. Typically they assume that their own gametes can be used for insemination or - if need be - for in vitro fertilisation. In many cases they are right, as with the advances of medicine embryos can be now obtained even from very low quality semen, and female fertility may be optimised with hormone stimulation. Unfortunately, sometimes even the most advanced techniques bring no results, and the only hope of a child is in obtaining an egg from a donor.

Thousands of potential egg cells... and nothing?

Although a statistical woman has thousands of ovarian follicles, and one mature egg is enough to conceive, no one can guarantee that she can get pregnant without any problems.

First of all, not all women have ovarian reserve at a level typical for their age - it happens that they lose their ovarian function prematurely, well before the time when menopause should take place. Secondly, the genetic material of an egg can have defects that prevent development of the embryo or its implantation in the uterine cavity. In both cases, infertility is permanent and irreversible, which is why IVF with donor eggs is the only chance for pregnancy and delivery. 

IVF with egg donation

IVF with donor eggs is the last resort for couples where the female partner does not have her own egg cells, as well as for the former patients of oncology wards, who irretrievably lost their fertility after cancer treatment.

“Indications for in vitro fertilisation using donor gametes include also the lack of pregnancy after several approaches to IVF”, says Tomasz Rokicki, MD, Medical Director at the InviMed Fertility Clinic in Warsaw. - Fertilisation in laboratory conditions is carried out when other, less complex and minimally invasive methods of infertility treatment failed, therefore in the case of IVF with egg cells from an anonymous donor we can talk about the last chance method”, the doctor adds. 

High success rates of IVF

The effectiveness of the IVF with donor eggs is not less than of the “classical” IVF in which the mother's egg cells are used. “Statistics show that with the use of gametes from young, healthy women who have undergone detailed examination and tests, physicians have a better chance of obtaining properly developing and promising embryos”, doctor Rokicki explains.

The effectiveness of treatment is so high that, at InviMed Fertility Clinics, patients participating in the IVF donor egg programme have the warranty of obtaining at least three high-quality embryos. If the first attempt at fertilisation fails, they are provided with another set of gametes without additional costs, up to obtaining three guaranteed embryos throughout the treatment process. 

Not my eggs, but my child

Higher effectiveness of IVF with donor eggs is an important argument for joining the programme. However, the decision to attempt at having a child who will have the genes of another woman is not easy.

At the beginning I did not even want to hear about it”, admits 37-year-old Anita, who became a mother thanks to the egg cell of a donor. “I wanted a child desperately, but I wanted the child who would be mine, similar to me in terms of appearance and character; that's why I and my husband had several attempts at IVF. The beginnings were promising - we had “good” embryos and for the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy I felt great, then suddenly they stopped developing and I lost my pregnancy. At one point, I did not have the strength to try further, although I still dreamed about the childsays Anita.

Doctors suggested that Anita could participate in the IVF programme with donor eggs, but she was not ready for it. I needed almost a year to come round to this idea - she says frankly. - I guess I was just waiting for a miracle, I still hoped that when we gave up the treatment, nature would do its job and I would get pregnant without even thinking about it. Of course, it did not happen. Christmas was coming when I realized that either I would break and try again (this time with the “support” from another woman), or there would always be just the two of us.

The donor who anonymously donated her eggs looked like Anita, because the selection of donors and recipients is based on phenotypic traits. The fertilisation was carried out with the sperm of Anita’s husband, with the result that their son is now the proverbial copy of his father. During the IVF treatment, I was consoling myself with the thought that our baby would be at least similar to him. By the way, I often hear that our son also has some similarity to me - I hear such remarks both from our friends but also from strangers who have no idea what the truth is - says Anita. 

The power of instinct and the DNA of love

Women who have given birth to a baby thanks to IVF with donor eggs are in a special situation. Biologically, their children are children of another woman, but they have experienced pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and everything that is associated with caring for a newborn baby. They have different DNAs, but they know their babies inside and out, care for them, love them and feel connected to them just as much as mothers who became pregnant naturally or in the procedure of IVF with the use of their own eggs.

Their path to motherhood is longer and bumpier, but these are mothers with a capital M, ready for huge sacrifices -  says doctor Rokicki. - During pregnancy and after the child has been born, they focus on it to the maximum and as far as I know, they do not waste time wondering if they will love the child as much as their “own” because it is their child, dreamed of and longed for. I think that sometimes we underestimate the role of maternal instinct, which can work wonders. Thanks to the injection of hormones during pregnancy and delivery, our patients behave like other pregnant women and mothers, literally wild with delight, when they finally hold their child in their arms”, the doctor adds.

The struggle with infertility has various faces - some couples manage to overcome the difficulties in conceiving a child relatively quickly and without major medical interference, while others exhaust subsequent treatment options, but without success. When, despite efforts taken, pregnancy remains a dream, it is worth considering more complex techniques of assisted reproduction or alternatives such as gamete donation.

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