Choosing a donor

Anonymous
Anonymous

February 7th, 2014, 4:28 am #1

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
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Joined: September 26th, 2008, 9:06 pm

February 7th, 2014, 9:36 am #2

Height, some indication of intelligence or education (for us, that indicated a certain 'stick-to-it-ness' that we thought might be inherited), blood type if you are no-tell (doesn't have to be yours but should be one that a genetic child of yours could have). For us, hair and eye color were not important, but if you are both blond and blue-eyed, you should pick a donor that is, too, as those are recessive genes.

Proven (a donor who has donated successfully before resulting in pregnancy and / or live birth) got important to us after we had several failures but it turned out the problem was mine (immune isues that needed treating).

Best of luck to you.
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Joined: June 4th, 2013, 1:16 am

February 7th, 2014, 11:27 pm #3

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
Health, similar appearance ( eye & hair colour, face shape), similar build ( if you are very small or big boned) , intelligence and proven donor.
I think personality, likes/dislikes, musical and artistic ability are a crap shoot. You never know what you'll get. I come from a large family and we all look similar but are very different people. Proven donor so that you don't have some one who bails on the donation cycle or doesn't stim well.

Lastly, don't get caught up on the perfect donor. Have a top 3-5. My 1st choice seemed like the perfect mini me in every way. My fear was that she'd back out because it was her last summer before starting very challenging grad school--and that's exactly what happened. My second choice's visit with the genetic counsellor pulled up health issues in her family that hubby and I were not comfortable with. I ended up with my 3rd choice which seems to often be the case with few DE moms I have spoken with.
Last edited by lulu1974 on February 8th, 2014, 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: October 9th, 2008, 2:53 am

February 8th, 2014, 6:33 am #4

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
Hi,
Our eventual donor was a young woman who has many of the same traits as I would like to think I have eg. Kind, caring, patient, thoughtful, fun and intelligent. She does not look like me but her mom could be my sister and my donors brothers and sister could be related to us bc of general coloring my husband is very fair, as am I.
My main criteria first and foremost was having a proven donor bc we had organised two donors before the successful one and both of them had issues. The first one had PCOS and hyperstimmed during the cycle while the second donor was sub fertile and just lucky to have her own children.
Whoever eventually becomes your donor will be the person you are meant to have. Our three year old boy has the same colouring as me and my husband of course.
So the moral of this story is the donor you choose today for various reasons may not be the donor you eventually end up with but that is ok intact it is more than ok.
Your time will come just like all the ladies here. The hardest part is not know exactly when this time is. But know that it is coming and find comfort in that knowledge, best THK.
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Al
Al

February 9th, 2014, 3:53 am #5

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
I found it very overwhelming, so my first suggestion is "don't rush" or put a time frame on yourself. I think the choice is a "gut" thing in the end and you can't put a time limit on that.

I had "tiers" of criteria. Tier 1 was the only non-negoatiable. I wanted a donor open to contact with the (future adult) I will raise, so anyone not open to contact was automatically excluded (not sure if your clinic has only anon....obviously that wouldn't apply if so !). But basically, I had one that was a "must".

Then I had a "tier" of "things I really wanted" including tertiary education (or evidence that the donor was someone who could make a plan and stick to it), a "people person" (that differed for each donor, but I wanted them to be kind...if that makes sense). I also am passionate about travel so for me, donors that had done more in their life than stayed in the same place, made more of an impression. No single one of these - except possibly education - was make-or-break though.

Then the "third tier" was everything else. I had ideally wanted someone married with children (so she'd have a sense of the enormity of this donation, and her partner would be on board), I wanted someone with my family colouring (yep...that's how much "looks" mattered to me....they were third tier), someone who seemed "like me" etc,.

I used a search agency to help me, so when I had a few "possibles" I prioritized "proven donors" from my choices, but that wasn't my original criterion. I'm glad I included it in the end though, because it gave me greater reassurance that she was familiar with the process and could cope with it.

I didn't get all those criteria of course, but I'm so so happy with the donor I did choose in the end. I hope the process "feels" right for you. That was the thing I valued most in the end.....going with someone that my heart said "choose this person"....

Al

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Mimi
Mimi

February 10th, 2014, 10:02 pm #6

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
You're getting some great advice here!

For us, probably the #1 thing was that she had to be a proven donor--the least proven donor we considered was a lovely woman who had done one cycle that produced 18 eggs and something like five frozen blasts but no pregnancy. The reason I didn't exclude her based on my "proven donor" requirement was because she produced lots of eggs and a good number of frozen blasts, she already had a kid of her own, and I didn't think the non-pregnancy was super meaningful for two reasons: (1) the couple did an eSET, which has lower success rates; and (2) the cycle was at some dinky clinic in suburban California that didn't have good success rates. I figured at my great clinic, she'd probably do fine.

But proven mattered to us, not just because it lowered our chances of a bad cycle, but also because it showed that she knew what she was getting into and was much less likely to flake out on us, and also because we had some medical issues that meant we knew we would need lots of eggs, so I wanted to know this was a donor who produced something like 15-25 eggs rather than, say, 8-10 or just a complete bust of a cycle. I excluded several donors who had produced pregnancies and who seemed great, after I contacted their agencies and found out that their prior cycles had only resulted in 7-12 eggs.

A close second behind proven was that she had to have an unusually good family health history and longevity. I didn't realize until looking at a lot of donors how unusually good my family's health history is and how unusually long we live! There was a donor who was absolutely wonderful in every possible way, just perfect on every level: proven, smart, fantastic personality, great writer, very pretty, similar build and complexion to me, looked uncannily like one of my grandmothers, adventurous, upbeat, artistic... but... three of her grandparents had died in their 60s, and I just could not get past that: how would I explain to my kids that I could've given them the genes of people who live into their 80s or 90s, like the folks in my family, but I didn't? And sometimes the donors were so young that their grandparents were about the age of my parents, so I literally would ask the agency, "What about her great-grandparents? What ages did they die at? Can you ask her and get back to me?"

Then there were a lot of physical and personality-based things. It was super important to me that she be a positive, happy person, because I'd read some articles indicating that temperament is to some extent inherited. I eliminated a couple of donors who seemed otherwise excellent because their profiles and photos gave me the impression that they were more anxious or on the gloomy side. And maybe this makes me superficial but I did care about looks; I figured that unlike education and even some health issues, looks are something no amount of good parenting can change, and the kids would probably feel best if they were not only decently good looking, but looked like they "fit" in my and/or my husband's family. In other words, tall gorgeous blondes were out because there are none in our families... I wanted similar coloring and similar build to my family or at least DH's. Eye color I didn't care about because there are all colors in my family.

So, that's a sketch of our criteria. How to actually do the search is a different story. I searched through probably 30 databases, which all worked differently so the search had to be done differently for each. Having "proven" as our #1 made it easy to do an initial search on donor databases because you can just search on the proven ones and that eliminates a lot of potential donors. But having health as #2 is not easy because you have to look through each profile carefully. So instead of doing the search in the same order as our criteria--proven #1, health #2 etc.--it was more like this:

1: Narrow down to proven donors only

2: Either narrow down to brown/auburn/black hair, or if the database doesn't let you search on hair color (some don't), then skim through the photos looking for women with the right coloring and look at their profiles.

3: On a big database, narrowing down to "auburn/brown/black" hair doesn't narrow you down very far, so if steps 1 and 2 still left me with like 150 possible donors, I would also narrow it down by height to bring the numbers down. The women in my family aren't tall... I set the maximum height taller than any woman in my family, but still excluded some great women because they were 5'10" or taller.

4: Start reading profiles. If at first glance her personality/character seemed like a potentially good fit I would immediately skip to the family health section and scrutinize health and longevity. I especially wanted to NOT get a donor whose family had the same diseases in it that my DH's family has, because I didn't want to double the kids' risk of those diseases. This step of the process eliminated a TON of donors.

5: From the donors who were left, I copied photos and info about my faves (as well as others who seemed like good donors that I maybe had a couple of questions about) into a Word document. This document grew bigger and bigger over time, of course. I then contacted the agencies or clinics these donors were at to ask any questions I had, such as how her previous cycles went (most databases don't put details like the number of eggs in the donors' profiles). Once I got answers to those questions I was able to eliminate some, put some roughly in order (a la "this is my fave, my second fave," etc.), and to put others on a sort of "definite maybe" list.

6: Then I asked the agencies and clinics about the donor's availability. Obviously this step will also eliminate some. We had three donors we really liked who all got picked by someone else before we could pick them and then decided to retire after that cycle, so they were completely off the table for us. This is why it's really not a good idea to get obsessed with a particular donor and convince yourself that she's perfect and no one else could be nearly as good. What you want to end up with is a list of at least 2-3 donors (and hopefully several more), any of whom you'd be happy with.

So that was our process... but bear in mind that I'm kind of a control freak! This approach may not be great for those who aren't, or for those who have already decided to use their clinic's in-house donors--if you're doing that then the database you have to search is much smaller than "all the clinics and donor agencies in America," so you don't need a complicated multi-layered approach to searching.

Best of luck!
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Joined: November 28th, 2012, 12:12 am

February 11th, 2014, 5:57 pm #7

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
I don't have too much to add but will re-enforce the recommendation to go with a proven donor. Not just because you have some measure of reassurance that their eggs are good but it reduces the worry. It's tough to go through this process and not become anxious at times. For me I would have gone bananas worrying about a first-timer flaking out when they realize what they've committed to doing.

I also found a book that helped me think through my questions and understand the process better. It's titled, Insider's Guide to Egg Donation.

Good luck!
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Anonymous
Anonymous

February 12th, 2014, 5:50 am #8

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
This has been a lot of great advice for us and it has been helpful as I have been looking through profiles. There are so many different things to look for, but I think we should be able to narrow down to our top three soon. I appreciate all of the advice!
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Joined: December 16th, 2013, 4:11 am

February 22nd, 2014, 10:33 pm #9

We are just starting our process with donor eggs and have decided to work with Pacific Northwest Fertility in Seattle. We have access to their frozen egg bank listings and the process seems overwhelming. I would really appreciate any insight from everyone as to how you went through the process and what was important/not important as you selected donors.
I had some non negotiable issues because it was to be something no one in our families would know about for private reasons.
1. blood group
2. education and ability to stick at something. As it turned out the one we settled on was a popular choice. She was travelling every two months to USA from UK. I had to ask how she could manage her studies since I know the time and dedication required to finish a degree. As it turned out she gave up law studies and became a photographer. So much for that!
3. Some colourings and body type and face structure similar. She actually looks more like my grandfather than me. There are a variety of body types in my and my husband's family so it didn't worry me so much about that.

So we ended up with twins. They are two very different children in looks and temperament. In their own ways I can see how they are like her. Please don't forget that your husband and his family are probably all varied and you will get their influence in your kids. My twin daughter looks remarkably like my husband's sister. My twin son says he can't see how he looks like anyone in the family. The facial proportions are sort of like my mother's brother. I have pointed him in that direction.

Miraculously I fell pregnant 6 months later with my own child. My husband has pointed out that she is so much like me in terms of determination and activity. He said, and I guess as a regret, that the twins are like their ED mother who would sell her eggs rather than get a job.

I think the motivation to sell eggs is not all altruistic and don't forget that. Also don't over think it. I am different to my natural siblings. My husband is different to his siblings. In a natural family you could get all sorts of combinations and permutations. My husband is one of nine kids. The eldest daughter is 16 years older than the youngest and they are very similar in looks and disposition. People gossiped that the eldest sister was the real parent.

As a parent to three kids very close together in age, I can say the two "half sisters" love each other immensely and are great company for each other. Being an older mother I am acutely aware that they will need each other after I am gone. My son is a real mommy's boy. I remind him that it will be his task to grow up and find a partner and make his own family.

I started IVF in Australia where it is covered under the nationalised health scheme. It wasn't the big expense that I read about for others. The problem here is that they don't allow women to sell their eggs. Before a donation the recipient and donor have to have counselling. The counselor didn't approve the process when she found out the donor was coming from UK. Instead I went to UK in the end. There were two frozen embryos left over and under UK law I cannot take them out of the country without the donor's consent. She was asked three times and three times said yes verbally but refused to sign the document so we could ship them to Australia. In the end the time difference between the potential births became too long and I accepted that we let the embryos go. So as much as this donor went through with the donations and had her international trips at some stage she reached a point where she couldn't do it any more. Truth be told I don't know that I could be an ED.

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Joined: December 16th, 2013, 4:11 am

July 31st, 2014, 1:08 pm #10

You're getting some great advice here!

For us, probably the #1 thing was that she had to be a proven donor--the least proven donor we considered was a lovely woman who had done one cycle that produced 18 eggs and something like five frozen blasts but no pregnancy. The reason I didn't exclude her based on my "proven donor" requirement was because she produced lots of eggs and a good number of frozen blasts, she already had a kid of her own, and I didn't think the non-pregnancy was super meaningful for two reasons: (1) the couple did an eSET, which has lower success rates; and (2) the cycle was at some dinky clinic in suburban California that didn't have good success rates. I figured at my great clinic, she'd probably do fine.

But proven mattered to us, not just because it lowered our chances of a bad cycle, but also because it showed that she knew what she was getting into and was much less likely to flake out on us, and also because we had some medical issues that meant we knew we would need lots of eggs, so I wanted to know this was a donor who produced something like 15-25 eggs rather than, say, 8-10 or just a complete bust of a cycle. I excluded several donors who had produced pregnancies and who seemed great, after I contacted their agencies and found out that their prior cycles had only resulted in 7-12 eggs.

A close second behind proven was that she had to have an unusually good family health history and longevity. I didn't realize until looking at a lot of donors how unusually good my family's health history is and how unusually long we live! There was a donor who was absolutely wonderful in every possible way, just perfect on every level: proven, smart, fantastic personality, great writer, very pretty, similar build and complexion to me, looked uncannily like one of my grandmothers, adventurous, upbeat, artistic... but... three of her grandparents had died in their 60s, and I just could not get past that: how would I explain to my kids that I could've given them the genes of people who live into their 80s or 90s, like the folks in my family, but I didn't? And sometimes the donors were so young that their grandparents were about the age of my parents, so I literally would ask the agency, "What about her great-grandparents? What ages did they die at? Can you ask her and get back to me?"

Then there were a lot of physical and personality-based things. It was super important to me that she be a positive, happy person, because I'd read some articles indicating that temperament is to some extent inherited. I eliminated a couple of donors who seemed otherwise excellent because their profiles and photos gave me the impression that they were more anxious or on the gloomy side. And maybe this makes me superficial but I did care about looks; I figured that unlike education and even some health issues, looks are something no amount of good parenting can change, and the kids would probably feel best if they were not only decently good looking, but looked like they "fit" in my and/or my husband's family. In other words, tall gorgeous blondes were out because there are none in our families... I wanted similar coloring and similar build to my family or at least DH's. Eye color I didn't care about because there are all colors in my family.

So, that's a sketch of our criteria. How to actually do the search is a different story. I searched through probably 30 databases, which all worked differently so the search had to be done differently for each. Having "proven" as our #1 made it easy to do an initial search on donor databases because you can just search on the proven ones and that eliminates a lot of potential donors. But having health as #2 is not easy because you have to look through each profile carefully. So instead of doing the search in the same order as our criteria--proven #1, health #2 etc.--it was more like this:

1: Narrow down to proven donors only

2: Either narrow down to brown/auburn/black hair, or if the database doesn't let you search on hair color (some don't), then skim through the photos looking for women with the right coloring and look at their profiles.

3: On a big database, narrowing down to "auburn/brown/black" hair doesn't narrow you down very far, so if steps 1 and 2 still left me with like 150 possible donors, I would also narrow it down by height to bring the numbers down. The women in my family aren't tall... I set the maximum height taller than any woman in my family, but still excluded some great women because they were 5'10" or taller.

4: Start reading profiles. If at first glance her personality/character seemed like a potentially good fit I would immediately skip to the family health section and scrutinize health and longevity. I especially wanted to NOT get a donor whose family had the same diseases in it that my DH's family has, because I didn't want to double the kids' risk of those diseases. This step of the process eliminated a TON of donors.

5: From the donors who were left, I copied photos and info about my faves (as well as others who seemed like good donors that I maybe had a couple of questions about) into a Word document. This document grew bigger and bigger over time, of course. I then contacted the agencies or clinics these donors were at to ask any questions I had, such as how her previous cycles went (most databases don't put details like the number of eggs in the donors' profiles). Once I got answers to those questions I was able to eliminate some, put some roughly in order (a la "this is my fave, my second fave," etc.), and to put others on a sort of "definite maybe" list.

6: Then I asked the agencies and clinics about the donor's availability. Obviously this step will also eliminate some. We had three donors we really liked who all got picked by someone else before we could pick them and then decided to retire after that cycle, so they were completely off the table for us. This is why it's really not a good idea to get obsessed with a particular donor and convince yourself that she's perfect and no one else could be nearly as good. What you want to end up with is a list of at least 2-3 donors (and hopefully several more), any of whom you'd be happy with.

So that was our process... but bear in mind that I'm kind of a control freak! This approach may not be great for those who aren't, or for those who have already decided to use their clinic's in-house donors--if you're doing that then the database you have to search is much smaller than "all the clinics and donor agencies in America," so you don't need a complicated multi-layered approach to searching.

Best of luck!
I agree that you are a bit of a control freak. what a list!
My husband is one of 9 kids and only two look similar. Some were academic and some not.
My family is academic all the way back for centuries. Should I have rejected my husband because his father was not as educated as mine? Now more people are doing tertiary studies and have these enormous financial bills to pay off. I was already 40 by the time I looked into this and I know that in spite of all that was behind me I still didn't have a perfect life. I would bet that most of the girls that are doing ED are doing it to pay of study bills for the perfect life they think they are going to have.
The donor I chose was studying law and she looked a bit like my grandfather and she had the same blood group as me. I found out later she dropped law and went into photography and actually got a thriving business. "Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans" John Lennon.
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