Donation of sperm has been used for some time in the assisted reproduction, it is actually quite a simple method. The donation of female ova is a recent, less applied and more complicated and more controversial method. There are countries, where this method is not allowed but it is permitted under the European laws. It enables women with dysfunction of ovaries to give birth to a child. We interviewed Mgr. Ingrid Zabloudilová, embryologist at the reproductive medicine clinic ReproMedica.

Under what circumstances the donation of ova can be considered?

Ova are donated to women without ovaries or with premature failure of ovaries, or if their ovaries do not react to the hormonal stimulation, to women who participated in oncologic therapy, or if there is a risk of genetically transmitted diseases. Or if the woman is older in terms of the reproduction. The ovaries of these women do not work sufficiently or at all, however, their uterus is of child-bearing potential.

There are not that many young women willing to donate ova compared to young men who easily donate sperm. Can each eligible woman receive an ovum?

You are right, the reproductive medicine clinic faces this problem, there are waiting lists and female receivers sometimes wait a year until a suitable female donor is found. We adopted an opposite procedure at our clinic – we started with the database of well examined and verified female donors. If needed, they are ready to come and donate, therefore the female patient does not have to wait, she is immediately treated.

To sign in was not enough to be registered in the database. What were the requirements to be met by a potential female donor?

Several examinations – the basic gynaecologic examination, test of sexually transmitted diseases (HIV, cytomegalovirus, Hepatitis B, C, syphilis, chlamydia) and genetic examinations, including karyotype and cystic fibrosis.

Can women who have not already given birth become donors? Come to think of it, they also have a free of charge genetic examination which is not standardly done.

It is advantageous if a woman has already given birth, however, it is not a condition. Our clinic adopted an age limited from eighteen to thirty- three.

Does the donation of ova consider the compatibility of a female donor and the woman who will receive ova? To make sure the child born from donated ovum resembles the woman who will give birth and be a mum?

The blood group and Rh factor must be compatible, the female donor and receiver fill in questionnaire about appearance, colour of skin, hair and eyes. Ideally, the female donor mentions as much data about herself in the questionnaire as possible. Our female patient can also request certain hobbies, character, education. We require at least secondary education. The complex database of donors at our clinic allows us to find almost 100% match of properties and characteristics and hobbies requested from the female donor by our female patient. Our main female donors are students and university graduates, women at maternity leave.

These women apparently need money. Is the donation paid?

Pursuant to the legislation, donation is voluntary and free of charge. We can reimburse the costs associated with the donation up to EUR 1000.

Are potential female donors informed about potential risk of the intervention?

Definitely, they are instructed during the consultation with a doctor. The probability of complications is low. The most frequent complication is the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. It is an acute reaction of ovaries to their previous hormonal stimulation, many follicles mature, the associated symptoms include gentle pain in the underbelly and swollen sensation.

What are the steps in the donation of ova?

When we contact a female donor, she undergoes ten days stimulation of ovaries where more ova should be produced. Instructed female donor will apply the injection herself at home, she will visit the clinic three – four times for a check-up to monitor the growth of ova. On the ova removal day, the female donor will visit the clinic fasting, ova will be collected in short general anaesthesia, the quality and number of ova are immediately controlled in the laboratory. The female donor can leave the clinic after two – three hours. The ova are then in vitro fertilized with female patient’s partner’s sperm. On the third or fifth day after the fertilization, one or two embryos are inserted to female patient’s womb. Other embryos are frozen, if their use is needed in the next cycle shall the first inserted embryos fail. Embryos can be stored for two – three years (this service is charged) and used, if the parents wish to have a second child.

What motivates women to apply and donate ova, knowing it is not a simple intervention and there is a minimum risk?

They mostly state they try to help others. The reimbursement of costs associated with the donation is valuable compared to donor’s tasks.

The effort to help would be understandable, if the female donor helps her sister or her friend. Is it legally possible?

Pursuant to the legislation, the donation must be anonymous for both parties, which is strictly respected at our clinic. We cannot help women in this aspect even if they are interested in this option. Female patient’s sister or a friend may become a donor to show solidarity but she will be registered in the donation database and her ovum given to anonymous female patient.

Prepared by: Ľudmila Grodovská (Magazine Slovenka)

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