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Oocyte donation is the relinquishment of unfertilized oocytes by a donor. These unfertilized oocytes will be donated to women who are unable to produce oocytes themselves but do have a functioning uterus. This means that they are able to conceive using an embryo developed from the donated oocyte and their partner’s (or a sperm donor’s) sperm.
An oocyte donor will undergo nearly a complete IVF treatment, including the hormone injections and the oocyte retrieval.
The MCK Fertility Center performs treatments using donated oocytes when the patient(s) have a medical indication for that. This is the case if:
An oocyte bank is how we store and keep the oocytes of healthy women. These will be fertilized using sperm from the acceptor’s partner. A fertilized oocyte will then be inserted into the acceptor’s uterus. There are three oocyte banks in the Netherlands, but the supply of oocytes is currently too low to meet demand.
Unfortunately, it is not possible at this time to apply for treatment using donated oocytes from our oocyte bank.
The MCK Fertility Center is one of three fertility centers with access to an oocyte bank. The demand for oocytes is much higher than the supply, which is why there is a number of criteria in place that must be met in order to be considered eligible for donated oocytes from our oocyte bank. You can read more about this in our information brochure for oocyte acceptors.
Due to the influx of clients for the oocyte bank, there’s a waiting list in place for these treatments. Please refer to the website for updates on when it’s possible to apply.
In the Netherlands, there are two possibilities for oocyte donation. First, a personal donor can be used. Examples of this are usually a sister or close friend of the acceptor. The other option is an anonymous donor. Anonymous donors donate their oocytes to the oocyte bank. Those oocytes are then frozen and stored, to be used for an acceptor’s treatment at a later date.
All potential oocyte donors are medically screened. Their health is examined, as well as the presence of any (hereditary) diseases or disorders in their family. In addition to this, it’s important for them to have a sufficient ovarian reserve. All donors are screened for STIs according to Dutch legislation. For more information on donating oocytes to the oocyte bank, please refer to our information brochure.
In order to donate, an oocyte donor must undergo nearly a full IVF treatment. She’ll use hormones to stimulate the maturation of several oocytes in the ovary. Using ultrasound imaging, we monitor the growth of the follicles (small sacs containing the oocytes).
When the oocytes have matured enough, they will be retrieved. During an oocyte retrieval, a hollow needle will be inserted into the ovaries and used to suck out the contents of the follicles. The obtained oocytes will then be moved to our laboratory, where they will either be mixed with the father’s sperm, or entered into cryogenic storage for later use. More detailed information regarding IVF treatments can be found in our information brochures IVF/ICSI and practical information IVF/ICSI.
In the laboratory, the (thawed) oocytes will be fertilized. A fertilized oocyte is also known as an embryo. Embryos will be incubated in the laboratory for three days, after which they will be transferred to the acceptor.
The acceptor will receive medication during the weeks preceding the embryo transfer in order to thicken the endometrium, allowing the embryo to lodge there. If the acceptor has a natural menstrual cycle, she’ll use medication to stop her own hormone systems. In this way, we can synchronize the menstrual cycles of the donor and acceptor (in case of a personal donor).
If several embryos are of sufficient quality, the remainder can be frozen. We can thaw these later to be transferred to the acceptor’s uterus, if desired.