Donor Egg Program

Photo of a young woman

We are looking for young, healthy women in their 20s, who would like to help infertile couples fulfill their dreams of becoming parents.

Although egg donation has been around since 1984, many people still don't know about this complex and miraculous procedure. Women who anonymously donate their eggs enjoy knowing they have shared one of the most precious gifts there is -- the ability to conceive a child.

Egg or oocyte donation involves the transfer of eggs from a donor's ovaries to a laboratory, where they are fertilized with sperm in vitro (outside of the body). The fertilized embryos are then implanted into a recipient's uterus.

Once the donation process is complete, the recipient is able to get pregnant and experience everything women who conceive without assistance experience, from labor and delivery to breastfeeding.

How Are Donors Selected?

The donation process is almost always anonymous except when a recipient gets eggs from a family member or a friend. In most cases, only a few, essential medical professionals know the donor's identity.

Donors must be screened, however, before entering the Donor Egg Program. In order to improve the odds of successful donation and protect both donors and recipients, potential donors must meet certain criteria and undergo a psychological evaluation.

Donor Requirements

Potential donors must:

  • Between the age of 21-31
  • Good general health
  • Within normal weight range, a BMI of 18-28
  • Non- smoker
  • High school graduate or proof of GED
  • Residing in MD, VA, DC, DE, WV, or PA.

The first thing potential donors must do is fill out a questionnaire. Donors must provide information about their medical history, their family's medical history and their physical characteristics. Some recipients like to find donors whose physical traits match their own, while others are simply happy to find healthy donors.

After the donor egg coordinator reviews the initial information provided by the potential egg donor, the donor will need to go through some initial screening tests.

First, the donor will have an appointment with a genetic counselor to assess the risk of passing genetic-related diseases to the offspring. Then, the donor will need to meet with one of our doctors that specialize in assisted reproductive technologies.

During this appointment, the donor will get a physical examination and an ultrasound scan of her ovaries. The donor will also need to have blood work done to ascertain hormone levels and rule out infectious diseases.

Reasons Women Need Donated Eggs:

  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Infertility due to poor quality eggs
  • A genetic problem with the eggs

The Egg Retrieval Process

The retrieval of donor eggs is performed using an ultrasound-guided needle. Donors are offered general anesthesia, while the needle probes its way up the vaginal canal to the ovaries. Doctors view the progress of the needle on a video monitor. Once the needle reaches the ovarian follicles, a gentle suction is used to remove the eggs.

This is the final step for donors. Once their eggs are removed, they are compensated for their participation. Although the recipient pays for all of the medical costs associated with the procedure, an egg donor must have their own medical insurance.

What Happens Next?

The donor's eggs are then taken to a laboratory, and incubated in a chamber maintained at body temperature.

The eggs are inseminated or undergo the ICSI procedure. The fertilized eggs are allowed to develop for three to six days. A limited number of the best embryos are transferred into the recipient's uterus.

For more information, call the Donor Egg Coordinator at Shady Grove Fertility Centers at The University of Maryland at 1-888-529-6382.

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 1-888-761-1967.