All our altruistic egg donors are aged less than 36 – scientific evidence shows that the quality of eggs can be reduced after age 36. We meet all of our egg donors personally and assess their health and medical history to help us identify and screen out donors whose eggs could pose a health risk to you or your future child. We also make sure that the donor’s own health won’t be affected by becoming an egg donor.
We screen all our donors for serious infectious conditions in line with the strict guidelines of our regulator the HFEA, and make sure the timing of the tests gives the best opportunity to identify potential infections. For your safety our donors are all screened for HIV, hepatitis, syphilis gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
We also ask donors about their ancestry and if they or their family originate from a country where there is a common genetic illness then we also screen them for these conditions. All our egg donors are screened for cystic fibrosis and if its relevant to their ethnic background, we also screen for sickle-cell trait, Tay-Sachs and/or thalassaemia. All donors also have something called a karyotype test which checks that they have the usual number of chromosomes of the expected size and shape.
Full details about screening are available on our patient information document.
All screening tests have limitations though and screening cannot guarantee there are no risks at all. Infectious screening may occasionally give false negative results if a person has only very recently contracted an illness. We screen egg donors for HIV and hepatitis when they are first seen for an appointment and then again a few days before their eggs are collected. We also use a very sensitive test (called NAT) that can detect HIV and hepatitis virus at an early stage of infection.
Genetic screening is effective in identifying the most common mutations that may cause illness if they are inherited from both the sperm and egg provider but again, screening does not eliminate all risk. There is always a possibility that your egg donor could be a healthy carrier of a genetic mutation they are completely unaware of, and that we don’t screen for, and if the sperm provider also carries that same mutation then sadly, a child may be born with a genetic condition. It is important to remember though that the risks of this are no different for people having assisted conception treatment or using donated eggs.