Donated egg cells are used for the treatment of infertility if the production of egg cells of the female does not work or if the quality of the egg cells is poor. Also, donated egg cells are used if the child runs a high risk of having a serious familial (genetic) illness linked to the egg cells. In Finland, about one hundred treatments are carried out annually with donated egg cells.
When donated egg cells are used, this is always coupled to in vitro fertilization or microinjection techniques. The donor’s ovaries are stimulated with hormones, the mature egg cells are collected and fertilized in the laboratory either with the partner’s sperm cells or with donated sperm cells. One donor usually provides 4–12 egg cells, which all are used for treating the same recipient.
After fertilization, the embryos are cultured for 2–5 days, after which one or, at most, two embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus. Before transfer, the uterus of the recipient is prepared with the use of hormone medication for receiving the embryo(s). The remaining embryos of high quality, or alternatively all embryos, may be frozen and used later for treatments with frozen embryos.
The prognosis of a pregnancy with donated egg cells is very good.
According to the Act on Assisted Fertility Treatments (1237/2006), the following items will be recorded of the donor: ethnicity, height, eye color and hair color. All donors are registered and the children who have been conceived with the use of donated reproductive cells have the right to information on the donators identity when they reach 18 years of age. Neither the donor nor the child who has been conceived through the use of donated reproductive cells has any rights or responsibilities toward each other. Egg cells may also be donated by the woman’s relative or friend.