The Family Match Consulting team is working hard to stay informed of all COVID-19 updates as they relate to IVF, egg donation, sperm donation, and surrogacy.
We have notified all our current clients of new guidelines released by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and we are in contact every day with our network of fertility clinics, egg donor and surrogate agencies, reproductive attorneys, mental health professionals and more. While things have been rapidly changing, we are committed to providing our clients with all information that is relevant to their family building plans and goals.
Most of the clinics we have active cases with seem to be following the recent recommendation by ASRM to temporarily pause new IVF cycles. While these clinics may not be issuing new treatment calendars or performing embryo transfer procedures, most of them are still accepting new patients, and conducting egg donor and surrogate consultations through video chat.
Egg donor and surrogate agencies are allowing staff to work from home in order to adhere to social distancing while still working hard to recruit qualified egg donors and surrogates. Most agencies are offering special accommodations for clients to hold candidates for longer periods of time than what’s typical so that clients can rest assured that their chosen candidate is ready to begin treatment as soon as their fertility clinic is ready to begin coordinating new cycles again. In some cases, several steps forward can be taken after the match so that the egg donor or surrogate can get as far along in the process as possible. For example, some clinics are allowing donors and surrogates to have psychological evaluations and consultations done with the physician through video chat, and sometimes legal contracts can be drafted in advance. We will find out all options available so that our intended parents can get as close to the egg retrieval or embryo transfer as possible so that as soon as cycles resume, they will be ready to quickly move forward.
Because this crisis is changing daily on both federal and local levels, we suggest that intended parents stay connected to their clinic for updates on services provided and potential timelines for their cycles. We are also here to help field questions and offer our perspective, for anyone who is navigating these complex waters.
Family Match is still actively searching for egg donors and surrogates at this time and working closely with our network of agencies and our partner clinics to understand the best course of action for each match. We will adapt our process with flexibility for any potential client that is embarking on the process of finding an egg donor or surrogate.
We know this is a highly stressful time for everyone, filled with uncertainty and disruptions to our lives and plans. Every person on our team is a prior infertility patient. We know how every month can feel like a year when all you want is to finally have the family you have dreamed of. We sincerely hope that any pauses that anyone encounters in their family building journey will be as short as possible. Infertility was never in our plan book, and COVID-19 most certainly wasn’t, either. These are trying times, and we are here for you.
For any intended parent who has had their cycle or family building schedule impacted, our friends and colleagues at Fertility Counseling Center, Inc. are offering a one-time complementary virtual support session to help you process this unexpected and difficult time. Session will take place on Saturday 3/28 from 9:00 am – 10:30 am PST. To participate, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please note for our clients with privacy concerns, we are unsure what privacy settings will be used for this group session so please email us if you would like to participate and we will help you navigate it.)
Finally, our colleagues at Men Having Babies have put together this helpful FAQ page explaining the changes in our field both here in the US and in Canada. Please review HERE.
We welcome any and all questions you may have at this time and are here to support you in any way we are able to. Sending each of you big virtual hugs.
With love and support,
The Family Match Consulting Team
In recent years it has become possible to select frozen donor eggs, versus choosing an egg donor to undergo a fresh egg donation cycle. Some parents are excited about the prospect of using frozen eggs due to the potential for cost and time savings, however it is important to understand the differences between the two options.
First, frozen embryos are considered quite strong or sturdy, whereas frozen eggs, prior to the sperm being introduced, are more fragile and typically do not survive the thaw at the same high rate as frozen embryos. Dr. Marut from the Fertility Centers of Illinois states, “It may take 15 or more frozen eggs to eventually result in one or two good quality embryos due to attrition as eggs are thawed, fertilized, and either transferred or frozen again.”
Additionally, with frozen eggs, parents only have the option to receive a “batch” or a “cohort” of approximately 6 eggs. Once the eggs are fertilized and then genetically tested, often times future parents only end up with maybe 1 or 2 healthy embryos which isn’t very reassuring, especially if the first embryo transfer is unsuccessful. It’s also not the best outcome for parents who hope to have more than one child as it might be difficult to achieve with the limited number of eggs retrieved from the chosen donor. A new article HERE from a recent study shares more information that may be helpful as you consider both options.
Given the much higher success rates of fresh donor cycles, we continue to advocate for fresh cycles at this time. If you want to explore both options, our search includes the ability to search both fresh and frozen egg donors, and we’d be happy to talk through both options with you in further details.
In fresh egg donor cycles, donors go through many tests that help to ensure a smooth process with potential for an excellent yield of eggs that lead to viable embryos. These tests include, and are not limited to psychological evaluations, genetic screening, infectious disease screening, in person screening for STDs, drugs, nicotine, fertility markers, resting follicle counts and more. While unfortunately there are few guarantees in the world of third-party reproduction, the number of gates your donor passes through increases your chances for viable embryos that can lead to a healthy pregnancy and birth.
On a personal note, I enlisted the help of an egg donor to help create my family. I chose a fresh egg donor in order to have the highest chance of success for obtaining multiple viable embryos as I knew I may want two children. The egg donor’s retrieval yielded approximately 40 eggs, which eventually became 6 viable embryos. When my first embryo transfer occurred, the remaining 4 embryos were frozen. I was told that they could likely remain viable for literally years and years. It was reassuring to know they were there, and that there was a good chance that one of them could become my second child. Sure enough, three years later, one of them did become my now 7-year-old sparkling daughter, Michelle. In a way, my two daughters are “conceptually twins,” having been conceived at the same time, although they are three years apart!
Please let us know if you would like to discuss the two choices in more detail.
The field of third party reproduction is an ever changing, evolving science. We keep up to date on research in order to best guide you forward on your path towards creating your family.
By: Cheryl Lister - Family Match Consulting Search Consultant and proud mother through the miracle of egg donation.