Preparing the Way for Egg Donation and/or Surrogacy

Hi all! My name is Rachel Ashby and I am the medical director of egg donation and surrogacy ART (assisted reproductive technology) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. My friend and colleague Holly Hughes and I will be speaking about egg donation at the upcoming RESOLVE New England Annual Fertility Treatment, Donor Choices and Adoption Conference on November 8, 2014. Holly and I represent the medical and nursing egg donation team heads for our IVF group and we very much enjoy speaking each year for RESOLVE New England!

Our talk focuses on the medical indications for egg donation as well as the practical differences using a fresh donor versus an egg bank. We also discuss issues with donor selection including medical and psychological screening, as well as agency coordination. We generally leave plenty of time for questions as this is often the most helpful part of our discussion. The questions are always great and frequently reflect what everyone is wondering!

One of the single biggest advances in egg donation – ART is the process in which we freeze both embryos and eggs. In years past, the state of the art was the “slow-freeze” method for freezing embryos and eggs. This process caused damage to cells when ice crystal formation would accumulate in the cytoplasm of cells and make the embryo less viable. This same method was largely unsuccessful for freezing eggs because of the large water content of eggs which led to worse damage from the ice crystals. The newer process for freezing is now the “vitrification” method. This process has solved the ice crystal formation dilemma and has enabled us the freeze both eggs and embryos with excellent survival.

Vitrification’s impact on egg donation has been large. We are now having outstanding pregnancy rates with frozen embryos remaining from a fresh egg donation cycle. Further, donated eggs are now being banked, much as sperm has been banked for many years. This evolution in our technology has made egg donation both more successful as well increased the options for treatment.

Holly and I look forward to seeing everyone on November 8th!

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