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Matching with a Donor

January 24, 2012
Logo design by Christine Hepner

After I finished most of the pretesting in the Spring of 2009, we entered into a kind of holding pattern. I can’t explain it fully. Part of it was the fact the economy was awful, and we were planning to pull equity out of our home to pay for IVF. The day we accepted a “match” was considered the official start of treatment, and would also be the day that we had to write checks for 30K. Another part was my having reached the limit of being poked and prodded and examined. Not, in hindsight, a good sign considering the amount of poking and prodding yet to come. D had taken on all the financial responsibility, looking into refinancing and other options. I can say, and I know D would agree, that we tacitly and mutually slipped into a neutral at this point and both of us did almost nothing to advance our cause.

Since I knew practically nothing about the process of IVF using donor eggs before we started treatment, I think maybe this is a good time to explain for anyone reading who isn’t familiar, either. However, I am by no means an expert at the whole process; I can only explain the procedures at CWRC.

CWRC recruits young women in their 20s who are college-educated or in college. They do extensive medical and psychological screening. The process at CWRC is closed and “blind,” meaning that neither the donor nor the birth parents can ever find each other through CWRC. No names are ever exchanged, and the donor is never told the results of the donation, whether fertilization actually occurred or a pregnancy ever resulted.  Once a match is made. our doctor on staff hands off our records to another doctor who does the actual transfer procedure. The donor herself has a third doctor. Each young woman can donate to no more than two times through the CWRC. That does not prevent her from donating through another clinic, however. But, the odds of a baby conceived through egg donation ever coming in contact with a “sibling” (i.e., a child conceived through donor eggs for another couple using the same donor or the child of the donor herself) are extremely small. And when you take into account that there are no  limits on the number of times a sperm donor can donate, there is a much greater chance of an inadvertent Greek tragedy resulting from a sperm donation than an egg donation.

The birth parents have a decision to make almost immediately: to tell or not to tell. We, quite obviously, have decided to be completely open from the beginning. I firmly believe that trying to keep a “secret” like this from our baby, friends, and family would never work in this day and age, anyway. I mean, I’ve heard a few couples who try the old “We tried and tried for 20 years to get pregnant, and it never worked, until suddenly we gave up at 45 and came to terms with it, and then, a miracle occurred and we got pregnant!” Bullshit, but every couple decides for themselves if they want to try to float that one over on their friends and family. I am just not that good an actress.

So, once a young woman passes all the testing (and we were told that the vast majority of those who apply do not at CWRC), she is placed in a database of potential donors. The egg donor coordinators then look for “matches” with couple in the program. We had to provide a picture of both of us, a detailed physical description, and also a “wish list” of traits in the donor. For example, our doctor told us that some couples come up with pages and pages of “must-haves” and “would be nices.” Must haves could be anything the couple desires, like maybe ethnic background or eye color or musical ability. Obviously, the longer the list of your deal breakers, the longer the matching will take. D and I sat on the beach one day in July 2009 and came up with “not short” and “of Irish descent.” We did hear of couples who get as detailed as: “must play the cello and the flute, speak 4 languages, be left-handed, and be a doctor.” I wonder about why you would get that detailed, but that’s just me.

When a potential match is found, the profile is sent along to your (the recipient’s) doctor who schedules a phone call where you gets to learn about the donor. You are allowed to know very detailed information about her: age, weight, height, coloring, ethnic background and place of birth, medical history, social history, her area of study, hobbies, interests, favorite books and movies, a statement of her philosophy of life, and her reason for becoming an egg donor. The cynics out there will say “for the money,” and yes, I agree, the fact that they are compensated for their time and effort to the tune of $8,000.00 must be part of the motivation. But, it can’t be the only motivation. Ask yourself, would you put yourself through a process that could be a very uncomfortable (downright painful) both physically and psychologically simply for money? At CWRC, the potential donors who respond that their prime motive is money are rejected. Also, if they refer to “their baby” during the interviews, they are also screened-out. In addition to the donor herself, you are also given details about her parents and grandparents (medical histories, vital statistics, occupations, etc).

Once you’ve “met” your potential donor, you have a few days to think things over. You are allowed to ask for more information, and if your doctor thinks it’s appropriate, he or she will reach out to the donor through her doctor. (CWRC also allows you to bring your own donor, but we didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone we knew. Also, most of our friends are over the age limit to donate, which is shockingly young. I do need to say that we had two friends offer to carry for us if I didn’t make it through the testing. Lisa and Suzanne, that’s the sort of gesture you never forget. )

Within 48 hours, you are asked to make your decision: go or no go. If go, you must be financially ready to write checks before the donor is notified. She, on the other hand, has no right to know anything about you. She only knows that she has matched and been accepted and that her part of the treatment will begin soon.

Next time: How do you ever thank someone you will never meet who has given you the greatest gift you’ll ever receive?

© 2012

Email me at or better yet, please comment below!

From → IVF Treatments

One Comment
  1. Becky Stone Derwin permalink

    I really enjoy reading this. I am also really proud of you for all that you have done and how you are willing to share your story. Thanks!


  2. Renee permalink

    The entries are really riveting. Well done!


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