Sunday, April 1, 2012

Where Did YOU Start?

To all of you who have done DEIVF not using a known donor, how did you find your donor?

Our clinic has an in-house anonymous donor program that is very reasonable with no waiting list. We will probably go this route, however... it's uber-anonymous since our town is kinda small, so they don't offer any photos of the donors. I understand the reasoning, but this means we will have no way of knowing to what degree the donor resembles me beyond a description of height/weight/hair/eyes/skin.

I'd like to know what my options might be for finding a donor outside of my clinic, but there's a lot information out there and I don't trust it all implicitly. Did you use an agency you feel you could recommend? Any good links you could share would be appreciated.


  1. Duh, I should just comment here where I don't have to limit my response to tweet-sized blurbs.

    Like I said, Boston clinics don't have their own donors, because they feel it's a conflict of interest, I guess. We ended up going with the Donor Source. We looked at several agency databases, but this agency happened to have the donor we chose. They're a large agency, I believe based on the west coast, but they have donors all over. Our main contact, Sheryl Steinburg, was really great. She was warm, responded quickly to my questions, and really seemed to care a lot about the people she's working with.

    You do get to know a lot more about your donor with an agency. I'm sure that's not the best way for some people, but it worked well for me. I found you can even request more photos and information about a specific donor you're interested in. Some people even set up phone conversations, but I wasn't interested in that. You can browse agency databases by just registering with them online. It was pretty quick and easy, and looking at donors was part of my process of getting used to the idea of DE.

    I found that there was a big difference in the donor pool different agency's had. Some were noticeably more academic than others. Some agencies had donors who were posed more like they were on a dating website, and that turned me off big-time. There was one other agency that was recommended by my clinic - and was also very responsive - Northeast Assisted Fertility Group. Kathy Benardo was the contact there, and I was astounded at how quickly she got back to me. They seemed to have a great pool of donors, too.

    For us, it was important to have a combination of personality qualities and looks that really fit, so it was nice to get a sense of academics, integrity, character, read questions they answered in their own words, and get to see several adult and child photos. In the end, we chose someone more for the mental and character traits than the physical ones. She looks more like she could be my husband's sister than she looks like me, but I think our child will look like she "fits" with us, which ultimately was more important to me than matching my eye color.

    We did end up going with a donor who lived clear across the country, so also had to pay for her travel and housing. It wasn't great to have that extra expense, but logistically it ended up working out fine.

    Good luck!

  2. it's funny to see how the different degrees of anonymity feel to different people (at different stages of choosing DE)
    Right now I'm considering using a Spanish clinic that will only tell me 1) age of the donor 2) blood type.... And I would just have to trust them to do the matching. Another Spanish clinic would provide me with the phenotypicals (height/weight/hair/eyes/skin) on the day of the transfer.
    Of course the law is different in Spain, and the law requires anonymity. Also it is not commercial, so donors only get expenses paid (around 900 euro) With the upside that there are lots of young and nice donors.
    Law in my country forbids anonymity (and forbids mediation or agencies of any kind), so hardly any donors available here...

  3. I looked at every donor database I could find - probably 30-40 agencies. I narrowed down the list of interesting donors, and then showed them to my husband. There were a few agencies that had more than one donor we liked, so we ended up going with our favorite donor, who was at an agency with a couple of appealing donors. We used the Egg Donor Program and they were easy to work with. We ended up choosing to do a second cycle with our donor, since she was interested in cycling again, and we wanted to get more embryos to improve our chances of having siblings who are full genetic siblings (and we've transferred 2 of the first 3 embryos with two BFNs, so in hindsight it was DEFINITELY the right move for us).

    I blogged about how I assessed donors, but a brief summary here:

    I wanted the donor to look like she could be related to me. So brown hair, fair, slim, around my height (5'7").
    Intelligence was really important - I'm, ahem, super smart, and I want my kids to be smart too.
    Education mattered, but intelligence/ambition was more important than the actual school she went to.
    A variety of interests - I'm in business, but have strong music/creative interests/talents, so wanted a right-brain/left-brain donor.

    We did well on those fronts - education/test scores ended up being something that weren't as impressive as we liked, but in every other way we've been very happy with our donor. (And my husband would say that he wishes she had hazel eyes instead of brown, so we'd have a chance at a blue-eyed kid. :)

    And... we had to meet our donor. This is rare, but it's because she was born abroad (and lived abroad briefly) and that triggered an FDA requirement for an open donation. I was really nervous about it, but it was a good experience, and it was really helpful to see her in 3D. :)

  4. Our clinic recommended only 2 agencies. I still felt the need to research all of them but they came up radically short. Beware the things you think you find online on your own. Shady operations.

    My agency was a lifeline. They helped out immensely. I would have missed dates without their help - they bent rules for me and played favorites on more than one occasion.

    I think you should consider looking into an agency if you are curious. I loved mine. These folks are in it usually because they experienced it - makes all the difference in the world.