The Steps of Egg Donor Compensation

Egg donors make motherhood possible for many women who are unable to use their own eggs to conceive. We receive many questions from egg donor candidates and egg donor recipients, alike, about the application process, time commitment, and anonymity. We hope you find a brief explanation of the process helpful.

Alleviating the Fear of ‘False Hope’ 

The Shady Grove Fertility Egg Donor Program provides two unique features that differentiate us from many fertility or donation centers: anonymous and prescreened egg donors. Our program features completely anonymous egg donation. As well, we complete the screening of our egg donors prior to accepting them into our donor program or uploading them as an option on our website. For prospective recipients, this reduces the issue of “false hope” that can occur if a prospective recipient “selects” a donor who is not “qualified” or even available. Ultimately, when the time comes for donation, both the donor and recipient know what to expect.

Prescreening and Prequalifying Egg Donor Candidates

The anonymous and prescreening features of our program require a significant amount commitment—not only commitment with regards to the time Shady Grove Fertility invests in order to prequalify and prescreen candidates in advance of accepting them into our program but also commitment to be sure we optimize the egg donor candidate’s experience from a physical and emotional perspective.

Prior to donating, Shady Grove Fertility requires egg donors to complete the 13-page Egg Donor Profile that encompasses both personal and family medical history, an essay, and biographical/demographic information. In addition to completing the Donor Profile, egg donors go through various physical, psychological, and genetic tests to be sure they meet the requirements of our donor program. Due to the multi-step time commitment required prior to the actual egg donation, Shady Grove Fertility designed a unique compensation plan for women.

Egg Donor Compensation Plan

At Shady Grove Fertility, egg donor compensation occurs after various stages of the donation process.

compensation wheelStep 2: We provide the initial stipend of $50 at the completion of the Donor Profile, blood test, and ultrasound. Women, regardless of whether they are accepted or denied at this point receive $50 for their time.

Step 4: Upon the completion of attending Donor Day and meeting with a counselor, Shady Grove Fertility will provide a stipend of $450 to women who are accepted into the program and $200 for women who are not accepted.

Step 5: At the completion of their donation cycle, donors will receive the final stipend of $6,500.

Step 6 and 7: Donors completing a second donation will receive $7,500 upon completion of the donation cycle and $8,000 for each additional cycle (up to a total of six donations).

To apply to become an egg donor at Shady Grove Fertility, please complete this brief application. If you have any question about egg donor compensation, please reach out to one of our egg donor liaison by email or call 1-888-529-6382. If you have already applied and wish to complete your donor profile, click here.

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Egg Freezing Draws International Attention

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Australia’s national news network, recently featured the growth and development of egg freezing in the United States. Shady Grove Fertility was interviewed for this piece, which was published as a radio interview and an online news article.

Joseph Doyle, M.D.

Source: ABC News, Lisa Millar

In the article “Human egg freezing trend grows in US as success rates improve,” reporter Lisa Millar interviewed Shady Grove Fertility’s Joseph Doyle, M.D.; James Graham, Director of Laboratory Services; and Radell Peischler, egg freezing patient, to gain a greater perspective about what patients can expect in regard to cost, success rates, and current trends.

One of the many reasons egg freezing has grown significantly at Shady Grove Fertility are the unique financial programs Assure 20 and Assure 30. These programs represent some of the only financial programs available to women in the United States who are interested in egg freezing, enabling more women to access this option.

Another reason that egg freezing has begun to gain mainstream acceptance is that success rates have become more widely discussed and promising. According to Dr. Joseph Doyle:

If you electively freeze your eggs and you’re less than 38 years of age, we’re seeing about half of the women who thaw 10 eggs who go home with a baby from that group. That’s really powerful data.

Laboratory Director James Graham also explained that egg freezing can act as an insurance policy for many women:

A vast majority probably won’t come back because they’re 35, they’ll end up getting married, and they will get pregnant on their own. We may never see them again. But a lot of it is like buying an insurance policy. If you don’t want to use it, that’s fine but it’s good to know you have it.

The opening statement of the radio interview captured the essence of what has changed in regards to acceptance of egg freezing:  “It was once spoken of in hushed tones. But the number of women freezing their eggs continues to rise.” As more women decide to freeze their eggs, and as publications continue to focus on egg freezing—both locally and internationally—acceptance will become more widespread.

To learn more about egg freezing, attend one of our upcoming live events, schedule an egg freezing appointment, or call 1-877-411-9292 to talk with one of our new patient liaisons. 

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Embryology Lab

Embryologist at microscope.For patients who are new to fertility treatment, the embryology laboratory can be an unfamiliar place. To begin with, what is embryology and how is the lab different from any other clinical lab? Embryology is the branch of biology and medicine concerned with the study of embryos and their development. An embryo represents the earliest stages of development; the undifferentiated beginnings of a baby, from the point of conception to the eighth week of pregnancy.

The embryology lab at Shady Grove Fertility is vast and awe-inspiring, full of state-of-the-art equipment where cutting-edge scientific procedures help to make patients’ dreams of a family become reality. It is where the egg and sperm come together, where embryologists perform genetic screening, freeze eggs and embryos, and so much more.

One of the most important aspects of a well-run laboratory is quality control. At SGF, we have demonstrated exemplary performance when it comes to quality control. The SGF embryology laboratories are accredited by The Joint Commission, and the Ambulatory Surgical Centers are accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc. (AAAHC). These accreditations symbolize excellence, experience, and professionalism—qualities we embrace on a daily basis. Our protocols to ensure quality are numerous and leave zero margin for error.

We have redundant safeguards and quality control protocols in place at every step of the process. From heated work stations that simulate the in vivo  (Latin for “within the living”) environment to anti-vibration tables that prevent harm to specimens should the table be jostled, the labs at SGF are state-of-the-art, ensuring the best possible success rates for patients. We even have an air filtration system on the roof that is roughly the size of a city bus. This system supplies carbon and HEPA-filtered clean air to the lab and operating room (OR).

The Top 6 Procedures Happening in the Lab

  1. Egg Retrieval

Before the time of egg retrieval, patients have already undergone a diagnostic work-up, diagnosis, and ovarian stimulation with regular monitoring from their physician. For an embryologist, the egg retrieval is their first contact with patients and their soon-to-be-embryos.

In the lab, before any egg retrieval can begin, the embryologist must perform identity verification. Multiple times throughout every procedure performed in the lab, the embryologists confirm first-hand that the patient’s paperwork matches up with their egg, embryo, or sperm sample. In addition, a second embryologist confirms that the patient information matches.

Once identification is confirmed for the retrieval, the physician surgically aspirates each follicle and the attending nurse will bring several vials from the operating room to the embryologist. The vials are—hopefully—filled with eggs. At the time of the retrieval though, the physician does not know exactly how many eggs will be obtained. If the patient is an egg donor, there could be upwards of 25 eggs obtained. If it’s a woman utilizing her own eggs, the quantity of eggs retrieved can vary. The egg count is dependent upon factors like the woman’s age or the individual diagnosis.

retrieved eggs - clean

Eggs after retrieval.

The post-retrieval vials do not have a perfect egg that is ready to be fertilized, so an embryologist must pour each vial into a culture dish and examine the specimen under an inverted microscope. Using a sterilized pipette, the embryologist hunts through the follicular fluid and blood, looking for the retrieved eggs. Once the eggs are found, the count is marked down and told to the nurse. Then the eggs are put into media, specially designed and formulated to replicate in vivo conditions, and placed into an incubator.

  1. Embryo Transfer

As with egg retrievals, a two-step identification confirmation is performed before an embryo transfer can occur. An additional identification confirmation is done with the patient for this procedure. Early in the morning, the embryologists do an assessment of each transfer patients’ embryos, selecting the best possible one(s) for transfer.

Once the best embryo is selected, the embryologist will go into the transfer room to identify the patient directly. The number of embryos being transferred will also be verbally confirmed with the patient and is signed off on by the patient, embryologist, physician, and a witness. The embryologist then goes back to the lab, loads the embryo into the catheter, and goes back into the room to give the catheter to the physician for transfer. Via ultrasound, the physician places the embryo into the uterus. The embryologist then checks the catheter in the lab to make sure that there are no embryos remaining, thus confirming that there was a successful transfer. After the transfer, the patient is given a picture of their embryo.

  1. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

    PGD

    PGD

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a cellular biopsy looking for specific genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia (to name a few). There are several reasons in which PGD would be medically indicated:

PGD is performed in the lab preferably when the embryo has reached the blastocyst stage, meaning that the embryo is made up of several hundred cells. About three cells are removed from the embryo and then sent to an outside lab for testing. The turnaround time for testing is about 24 hours.

  1. Sperm Wash
Sperm under the microscope.

Sperm under the microscope.

While SGF has a separate andrology lab that performs semen analyses, the embryology lab also has a sperm station. As with the eggs, the embryologists want to select the best possible sperm for IVF. On the day the woman is having her eggs retrieved, the sperm also needs to be obtained. The male partner will often bring a sample that he obtained in advance and it will be kept in the lab until it’s time for insemination. Previously frozen sperm from the male partner or a donor can also be used, and it will be thawed for IVF.

At the sperm station, all sperm that are being washed will be used in that afternoon’s inseminations. After the sperm is washed, the good sperm will swim up in the sample, letting the embryologists know which ones are candidates for selection.

  1. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

    ICSI

    ICSI

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a form of fertilization performed in the lab that differs from conventional fertilization. Conventional fertilization occurs when the male partner’s washed sperm is placed directly on top of the egg and left overnight. The embryologist brings together the highest quality egg and sperm and then lets them come together on their own. This doesn’t always work out though, particularly if male factor infertility is present. This is where ICSI comes in: an embryologist injects a single, healthy sperm into the cytoplasm, or center, of each egg. Since fertilization only requires one healthy sperm, ICSI has become one of the most transformational advances in fertility treatment.

ICSI, like conventional IVF, still needs the embryologist to select the best sperm from the already-washed sample. The embryologist will proceed to ‘catch sperm,’ using a pipette and microscope to identify the sperm to be used for insemination. It’s not just about who is the fastest swimmer, it’s largely about the morphology, or shape, of the sperm. The embryologist will grab the sperm by the tail and bring them onto a culture dish. It might take an embryologist up to an hour to find a single viable sperm. Once the sperm are obtained though, it’s time to inseminate. The pipette enters the egg and a single sperm is placed in the center. ICSI is a revolutionary treatment and has changed reproductive potential for couples experiencing severe male factor infertility.

  1. Vitrification

Like ICSI, vitrification is another revolutionary medical procedure that has changed fertility treatment. Embryo and egg freezing has been around for many years, but until recently it wasn’t always reliable. A slow freezing technology called cryopreservation had traditionally been used, which often allowed ice crystals to form inside the egg or embryo, thus damaging the eggs/embryos. Vitrification, a fast freezing process, improved freezing exponentially.

Eggs being prepared for freezing.

Eggs being prepared for freezing.

To perform vitrification, the embryologist will place the embryo into freezing media droplets on a culture dish. Over the next 10 minutes, the embryo undergoes serial exposure to an increasing concentration of cryo-protectant before it is loaded onto a straw. The straw is then rapidly dipped into liquid nitrogen for less than 1 minute. With that, vitrification is complete and the straw is put onto a cane and stored in a cryotank. The embryo can remain in the tank indefinitely, or until the patient returns for a frozen embryo transfer (FET).

The lab has an abundance of tanks full of eggs and embryos, largely due to vitrification’s growth in popularity. This is largely because of FET’s success rates—which are now nearly identical to fresh embryo transfer rates—but also because of an increase in elective single embryo transfers (eSET) to reduce multiple pregnancies.

In addition to embryo freezing, many women freeze their eggs prior to undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Women will also freeze their eggs to preserve their current fertility, but use the eggs in what would traditionally have been considered advanced maternal age. Patients going through infertility treatment may also opt to freeze a portion of their eggs prior to fertilization, in order to reduce the number of frozen embryos.

The Importance of the Lab

All of the aforementioned technology is scientifically impressive, but why does it really matter? SGF is a center of excellence, a place where families begin and patients’ dreams become reality. Our success rates are remarkable and it’s largely due to our technology. But it’s more than the technology—it’s also the talented and dedicated embryologists who wield the technology. The machines would have no use without these men and women.

To learn more about the embryology lab or to schedule an appointment, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.

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