The Miracle of Donor Egg Families
Forty years after the first human IVF baby was born, the world of reproductive science has grown by leaps and bounds. Simultaneously, societal changes have helped to grow the meaning of family.
Before the 1980s, if an aspiring couple struggled with female-factor infertility, the options would be to adopt a child or accept child-free living. In 1983, the first child born from egg donation set the stage for a new era in parenthood. The next two decades brought research, as well as trial and error on frozen egg donation.
Today, the world of fertility options is much different. Donor egg babies are a miracle for helping families grow. Bringing a child into the world and accepting responsibility as a parent has brought so much joy into people’s lives. Choosing to have a child with an egg donor takes a special dedication to parenthood. In 2019, we can celebrate families of all shapes and sizes thanks to the advances in egg freezing.
Donor Egg Parenthood
Now, close to 10,000 women every year are giving birth, who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to without the emergence of egg donation IVF. Same-sex parents have more options for egg donors through frozen egg banks, now as well. In many cases, parents who faced obstacles becoming moms and dads have a strong bond with other parents considering donor egg babies. Those who led the way now have an opportunity. They can give advice and share resources on raising and talking to their children about being a donor egg family.
Says Fairfax EggBank’s Medical Director, Dr. Laurence Udoff, “Donor egg IVF is a modern miracle of science. Patients who have a near zero chance of conceiving using their own eggs have the opportunity to still conceive using donor egg technology.”
Below we show a brief history of egg donation in the United States and celebrate how far we’ve come.
1984 – First Donor Egg IVF Baby Born
Dr. John Buster, of UCLA School of Medicine, led his team to achieve the world’ first successful birth involving the use of donor eggs.
1997 – First Frozen Donor Egg IVF Baby Born in the US
While Australia and Hong Kong were able to report successful births using frozen donor eggs about ten years prior to 1997, a private clinic in Georgia recorded its first frozen donor egg birth in 1997.
The egg donor recipient was a 39-year-old woman with premature ovarian failure who used donor eggs from a healthy 29-year-old. The recipient was never nervous about using frozen donor eggs and delivered twins. She cited “All I wanted was to have a happy baby.”
2003 – Government Provides Some Support for Egg Donation Coverage
The IRS ruled that egg donation recipients could claim a medical tax deduction for costs of using an egg donor.
However, only a few states – Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island – instituted laws requiring insurance companies to reimburse for IVF, which covered parts of the egg donation. (Today, only 16 states mandate infertility treatment coverage, and each state varies widely in what it covers. Clearly, more work needs to be done to advance coverage in all 50 States.)
2012 – Frozen Donor Egg IVF No Longer Considered Experimental by Governing Body of Reproductive Medicine
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) released a report indicating it no longer considered egg freezing techniques “experimental.” This conclusion was based on their findings that rates of pregnancy and live births using frozen donor eggs were “comparable to those seen with in vitro fertilization (IVF) using fresh eggs.”
2014 – Donor Egg Cycles Account for 1/5th of IVF Births
As more and more women delayed childbearing, the need for donor eggs increased over the years. In 2014, according to SART data, donor egg cycles accounted for 18% of all IVF births.
Today – Frozen Donor Egg IVF Becoming Increasingly Popular
The chart below shows recipient cycle starts in the U.S. reported to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) from 2013-2017. Data shows the steady increase of frozen donor egg cycle starts. In contrast, there was a sharper decline in fresh donor egg cycles.
In combination with cycles involving thawed embryos (using either fresh or frozen donor eggs), the data is clear. Donor egg cycles continue to increase in numbers year over year.
It takes a community to build families with Donor Eggs. At Fairfax EggBank, we laud the hard work researchers, scientists, and physicians are doing to advance the science and efficacy of donor eggs. Equally, we celebrate the millions of compassionate donors, surrogates, and all those who have either already used donor eggs or plan to in the future.