Anonymous or not? Strict selection and genetic screening Double checks
The demand for donor sperm exceeds the supply. This is why the CRG is always looking for new donors. The greater and more varied the supply, the better the selection for the recipient couple.
If you are interesting in becoming a sperm donor please check the website www.spermadonor.be
There is also a permanent shortage in the supply of donor eggs and embryos. The CRG actively seeks couples who are willing to help solve this problem.
More information about this is available on www.eiceldonor.be
- Initially, we talk to women and couples having IVF treatment themselves at the CRG about becoming egg and embryo donors.
- If you become a donor, some of your ripe eggs can be donated to an anonymous recipient after egg retrieval. This principle is known as 'egg sharing' or 'partial donation'.
- Couples who have a surplus of frozen embryos after an ART treatment and have no need for them anymore (e.g. because their child wish is fulfilled) may also decide to donate them.
- And if you are a woman having IVF treatment with donor material (in this case donor sperm), the CRG will try to motivate you through a system of 'solidarity donation' to act as egg donor (even partial).
We are also always actively looking for 'voluntary' donors. These are women without any fertility problems of their own but who are willing to follow that part of the treatment required to allow ripe eggs to be harvested. In most cases, a volunteer is found by the couple who require an egg donation, but the CRG also tries to encourage healthy young women from outside the IVF circuit to volunteer as egg donors.
Do you want to be an egg donor?
Contact the Contact centre or read more here about egg donation during your own treatment.
Anonymous, or not?
The general rule is that the donors are not told who the recipients will be, and vice versa.
The 2007 Act on ART , and anything related to donation, allows for named donation, but in the formulation of the rules implies a marked preference for anonymity.
A specific situation in which this general rule may be waived is that of egg donation
. This is a situation when the recipient couple explicitly chooses a donor and vice versa.
But an anonymous variation is also possible for this situation:
- several couples bring a donor,
- the donor eggs go to the egg bank, and
- the couples receive anonymous eggs from the egg bank.
This allows couples to find a donor in their own family or circle of friends and still guarantee anonymity. See anonymous versus named
for the benefits of the first.
Strict selection and genetic screening
Obviously, not everyone is a suitable donor.
- There is the age factor:
- for sperm donors the limit is 44.
- for egg (and embryo) donors it is 35. Exceptions to this rule are only made in certain cases of named donation and with the recipient couple's explicit permission.
- All donors are subjected to rigorous medical screening before they are selected.
- In addition to an extensive family medical history questionnaire, the following genetic tests are performed for all candidate sperm donors:
- DNA testing for CFTR mutations (cystic fibrosis),
- DNA testing for spinal muscular atrophy,
- karyotyping (chromosome analysis),
- and screening for Thalassemia.
- Moreover, a detailed family history may be drawn up to identify recurring characteristics such as life expectancy, physical health, mental stability, etc.
- During the preliminary examinations the blood is tested for infections such as hepatitis (jaundice) and HIV (the aids virus).
- Verder wordt gestreefd naar een goede 'match' tussen donor en acceptor(paar). We proberen indien mogelijk de bloedgroep van de donor en zoveel mogelijk van zijn/haar uiterlijke kenmerken bij de acceptor(en) te laten passen:.
- the donor's blood group and rhesus factor, and
- mapping the phenotype profile, i.e. the physical characteristics such as skin type, eye and hair colour, build,...
Unfortunately a phenotype match is usually quite restricted because the offer - and certainly the offer of eggs and embryos - is too small.
All donated sperm, eggs and embryos are subjected to extensive medical screening too:
- genetic screening to avoid congenital disorders, and
- it is subjected to the NAT-test, or
- (in case of donor sperm) stored for six months prior to use.
Six months is the period the body needs to produce antibodies against certain infections and against HIV in particular. The presence of antibodies therefore indicates the presence of the virus.
By testing the sperm donor again after six months before using his frozen sperm, the CRG is certain that the frozen sample is not infected.
Most of the time, however, we use the so-called NAT test, which immediately detects the presence of the virus itself.
We don't only do this to screen sperm. We also use it to screen eggs and embryos.
This way the CRG is certain that all donor material is free from infection.