Today is day 6 of 6. We are due for the embryology call this evening. I am so scared, I’m numb, if that makes any sense.
Mais voila–PSA numero deux! If you read the Resolve boards, you know that cycling with donor eggs abroad is more popular that one might initially imagine for American women with access to the self-proclaimed “best healthcare system in the world.” The reality is that it’s also the most expensive place on the planet to seek infertility treatment. Compound that with the ample compensation commanded by desirable donors–the proven, the smart, the blonde and beautiful–and a single cycle ends up costing as much as a BMW, putting alternate paths to conception out of reach for many. The main advantage of cycling abroad is cost: even after travel expenses, a donor cycle still comes in around $12k, less than half of what you would pay for fresh stimulation and transfer in the U.S. There is some great information on PVED about the “trade-offs” associated with going abroad. Since treatment options here in the States are largely driven by consumer demand, it is really the Wild West of 3rd party reproduction, and whatever your heart’s desire, it’s probably available here. Treatment abroad is more highly legislated, so in the Czech Republic, for example, the law dictates that all egg donation is completely anonymous, so anonymous that they won’t even supply you with a donor number to register on the Donor Sibling Registry. To me, that doesn’t sound so bad. I know it’s not a popular position, but my primary hang-up with using donor eggs is the introduction of this strange younger woman into our marriage and family, like some twisted sex scene out of The Handmaid’s Tale. The prospect of putting 5,000 miles of ocean, a language barrier, and strictly enforced anonymity dampens some of my fears slightly. She becomes a bare-bones profile of height and eye color, age, blood type, and no Godforsaken pictures burned into my mind’s eye for all time as my child grows and starts to look like her instead of me.
Enough about me. Here are my notes from the hour-long phone consult with Sue from IVF Traveler:
* Most donors are either university students or stay-at-home moms
* Most in their twenties; you can request a specific age range or a “proven” donor
*They “max out” their donors usually at 2-3 cycles (fewer siblings); it’s important to tell them in advance that you’d like the option of cycling the donor again for a sibling so they don’t match you with someone who is maxed out; once pregnancy is achieved (proven donor) you can commission a batch of frozen embryos.
* Typical information disclosed about the donors: blood group, height, weight, hair color, eye color, level of education, sometimes field of study, whether she has proven fertility
* Option to do additional genetic testing (whether donor is a carrier for genetic diseases other than cystic fibrosis, which is part of standard screening) at our expense (in-house only)
* Donor compensation is more like $1,000 (an average working class family’s monthly wage) versus the U.S. market standard of $8,000 and upwards; motivated more by altruism than cash?
* A typical cycle results in 8-12 follicles and 2-4 blastocysts
* Vast majority of clinics abroad are doing day-5 transfers with donor eggs cycles. Clinics are generally competent at growing to day 5 and do it routinely.
* Some clinics are offering low-cost CGH; these clinics tend to have better responses because they’re picking donors that will respond better since they know they’re going to lose a few along the way; even with donor, they’re still finding that roughly 25% of those blastocysts are chromosomally abnormal.
* Reputable clinics abroad: success rate 50%-69% per transfer. U.S. patients tend to have higher success rates because of thorough testing done beforehand at home.
Misc. Practical Information
* Gennet has a long wait (highest success rate); the others don’t
* Low-cost CGH: Gennet (Prague) & Reprofit (Brno)
* It makes sense to do the FET overseas because by the time you sustain the costs of having embryos moved and then pay higher U.S. procedure fees, it’s all a wash
* Typical cycle is $12k once you’ve factored in your travel.
* Donor Sibling Registry: no access via Czech donor; since they cycle fewer times, there are fewer siblings; they would make sure that donor wasn’t used for any other recipient in North America