Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Understandably, couples faced with the decision of choosing an egg donor typically have concerns about the donor’s genetic makeup. Fortunately, there are options available to help a couple identify any genetic disorders their donor might have and reduce the risk of passing these traits on to the child/children born from the donation.
There are two approaches when it comes to donor genetic screening, which are not mutually exclusive. The first and more traditional approach begins with genetic counseling. The genetic counselor will take a detailed family history from the donor and recommend specific genetic tests based on this history (and the ethnicity of the donor). Though this is still considered the standard approach in the industry, it has two potential flaws. First, the donor may be unaware of a specific genetic disease in her family or, worse, may choose not to disclose it. Also, single gene testing can be very expensive, especially when it comes to the “Jewish Panel” (performed on Ashkenazi Jewish donors), which can cost over $2,000!
A new alternative that has become more prevalent in recent years is Universal Genetic Testing (UGT). With UGT, a single saliva or blood sample can be analyzed for the presence of multiple recessive genes at a relatively low cost. Currently, the first such test available is called “Counsyl.” This test costs $350 and evaluates 100 recessive traits, including the Ashkenazi panel).
If a serious recessive trait is discovered, the intended father needs to be tested for that gene, or the donor should be excluded. Most doctors tend to encourage the latter choice.
Critics of UGT are uncomfortable with its “shotgun” approach. Detection rates for diseases not common in specific ethnic groups can be low, however, these women would not ordinarily be tested for these diseases so not much is really lost. In contrast, the cystic fibrosis screen in Counsyl contains more mutation than most of the traditional single gene tests currently available. Also several less-serious diseases (that do not have life-threatening affects) are included in Counsyl, and finding such a disease may unnecessarily create anxiety on the part of the recipient couple. Some doctors have started customizing the panel to exclude such conditions. One genetic disorder not included in the Counsyl panel is fragile-X. Women carrying this mutation can produce boys with severe mental retardation and autism. Fragile-X is the most common cause of mental retardation in boys and one of the few proven genetic causes of autism.
Both the traditional approach and UGT are appropriate options for screening egg donors. I personally recommend Counsyl and fragile-X testing on all new donors. If for some reason Counsyl is not desired, Caucasian non-Jewish donors are screened for cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), fragile-X, and Tay-Sachs enzyme. I also recommend that a complete blood count be donor to screen for thalessemia. As always, your doctor and genetic counselor will be able to help in deciding which genetic tests are most appropriate for your donor.
- Michael Feinman, MD
Medical Director, HRC Fertility
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
We are an Australian couple who have taken our IVF journey to the USA. We have pursued the egg donation path in the USA as we respect the quality of medical treatment, stringent screening of donors, and most importantly the ability to access information about your donor. We chose BHED as our donor agency based on recommendations from doctors both in Australia and in the USA. We have been very happy with the service provided by BHED. The BHED team have provided information and assistance to make this process incredibly easy – in fact, much easier than it has been within Australia. We chose our donor, signed contracts, and commenced treatment all within a couple of months. Our cycle coordinator kept us informed every step of the way and was always quick to answer any questions we had. Taking such a huge leap of faith to go down the Egg Donation path when you are on the other side of the world was at first overwhelming. The reality was that BHED made the process very easy.
- T, Australia
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
As a result of using the services of BHED, we have been blessed with the most beautiful baby. Making arrangements from Australia could have been fraught with difficulty, making the egg donor process an anxious one. The team at BHED were a pleasure to to deal with, they were constant and thorough in their communication, and always professional. Thanks to BHED, the egg donor process was an extremely positive one for us. We are extremely grateful for their services.
- S, Australia
Monday, January 7th, 2013
My husband and I live in Australia, and we’re the proud parents of a beautiful little boy, thanks to the BHED team and our wonderful donor. From beginning to end, BHED walked us through the whole experience. Going into the process, we had so many questions: about how matching cycles would work, about the communication with the doctor, about the contracts and legal issues. They helped us make a final donor selection and coordinated everything (doctor’s visits, paperwork).
Dealing with infertility was difficult enough — knowing that someone else was looking after all the details of the egg donor process made us feel confident and comfortable. Our worries about the distance turned out to be for nothing, as we were in constant communication with the team via e-mail and phone. Putting our trust in dedicated, experienced professionals was the perfect decision — it was our first time, but they had done this successfully so many times before! Retrieval and transfer went smoothly, and our son was born nine months later. We are incredibly grateful for BHED’s compassion and expertise, and of course for the extraordinary donor who made our dreams come true.
- M., BHED Recipient
Tuesday, December 25th, 2012
From our companion site, Ask Kate:
Q: I have been selected as an egg donor by two different recipients. I would like to do the cycles back-to-back. Is this something I can do? Do my periods remain on the same schedule throughout one cycle? How long does it take my ovaries to return back to normal so I can cycle again?
A: You can absolutely do this. I did it a couple of times for a couple who wanted to put my eggs on ice. Whatever the reason, you can pump these little eggies out back-to-back as you feel comfortable. You will want – and you’ll need – down time in between cycles. Usually, the doctors want you to have two regular periods before proceeding with another donation. This is standard protocol but, to be honest, one period was all I needed before hopping back into the game. During donations, you’ll start to figure out your body in a way you never thought you wanted or would have to. You feel things, physically, completely differently; you will take care of yourself differently; you will handle your hormones completely differently; and you will realize the need to heal 100% before jumping back into anything – and you will know when you’re ready. If the honor of your eggs is in such high demand, then you will be a veteran before you know it, but don’t let the experience pass you by – that won’t serve you in the end. Understand what’s going on, pay attention to the scheduling and pay attention to how you are responding to not only the hormones, but your recovery as well. Good luck, and congrats on your cycles!
- Kate Lee, 6-time BHED donor
Sunday, November 25th, 2012
1.) At some point, you will freak out. There will be a moment of second guessing. Be it whether you injected yourself (which will happen 5 minutes after you do, but you’ll just… forget — I promise it’ll happen) or whether you messed up on the amount of your meds, or whether you’re just second guessing any info you’ve been given. It happens. It’s a wave of panic that rushes over you that you’ve effectively messed up the whole cycle and then you reason with yourself, and it’s over. Be vigilant about your process, but don’t be anxious.
2.) Don’t underestimate the power of a calendar and some Crayola markers. Your doctor will give you a calendar on a piece of paper and it’ll have all your important dates on it… times of appointments, amounts of medications, changes in medications, upcoming procedures, etc. Color code it. Tape it up in the kitchen or bathroom. All appointments get circled in red, all med changes get circled in green, and as you go through the days, cross them out in blue. I know we’re in a technological world now, and paper calendars and markers have gone the way of your 5th grade art class, but in this case, it’s very important that you physically live within your calendar until your timeline is complete.
3.) Secure a ride to your retrieval immediately. Before you even start your cycle, make sure you have someone locked in to drive you to and from your retrieval and then make that person promise you her first born or left arm. I have a lot of friends, most of them best friends, but most of them are also complete flakes, and they’d say yes, then not be able to follow through and I’d be stuck 48-hours before my retrieval with no exit strategy. Well, I had one, but it was foiled. There is no feeling of anxiety like not having your retrieval day planned and then Plan B’d. This isn’t something you can ask of just anyone, and it’s so very important that whomever you ask understands the weight of the responsibility. Period.
4.) Plan on putting your life on relative hold for about 3 weeks. It’s like when you try and diet, but continue to go out to eat and be social as if you weren’t on a diet — you don’t actually ever lose weight, and you wonder why. It requires self-discipline and understanding that you have a new priority, and it’s no longer your social life. Your injections need to happen at the same time every night. Your appointments are going to be every three days at 7:30 a.m., sometimes daily. It’s difficult to keep pace if you’re out on the town, here or there and everywhere. A lot of people are involved in the planning and execution of your cycle; don’t be the reason it needs to be re-planned and re-executed.
5.) It’s not as hard has it looks. You’re gonna get a big box delivered to your home or office. It’ll have dry ice in it, and under that will be a pharmacy — meds, syringes, vials, a biohazard receptacle like in a doctor’s office, and gauze and band-aids — literally, like a pharmacy. Take it all out. Put all the meds in the fridge, put all the “tools” in a handy spot and set up shop. Every night, you’ll mix-master yourself whatever the calendar tells you, and you’ll inject. At some point, you’ll have two injections. It’s possible you’ll even get up to three different meds, thus three different injections. Don’t be overwhelmed, but be aware. It’s pretty hard to do it wrong. Honestly. There is no math involved, there is no science involved, just being able to follow directions. Trust yourself. Have a routine, and stick to it for the sake of consistency and by default, your sanity.
6.) Ask questions. If the doctors ask you if you have any questions, and you do, but think it’s silly, ask anyway. If the nurse ask you if you have any questions about how to inject, and you think you got the instructions, but you’re a little unclear and think you can figure it out on your own at home, rethink that, and ask her to show you again. Once you’re home, holding a syringe with $10K on the line, you’re gonna wish you had asked that question. If it’s midnight and you’re going over your schedule for the next day and you realize something is missing/wrong/confusing/worrisome, call the 24-hour number for your doctor’s office. Sometimes, the doctor’s offices are not.. on it. If you feel like you don’t have all the info you need, or calls or emails aren’t being returned with enough urgency, YOU call. Be a pest. It’s your body as much as it is the recipient’s. Take ownership of the cycle — it’s yours. All people involved are very invested in making sure everything goes as smoothly and successfully as it can, but sometimes, people need a little nudging.
7.) Talk to your HR department at work. As women, we have all kinds of trump cards we can pull that men will never have the opportunity to play. “Lady Issues” is one of them. And it covers a myriad of situations with no questions asked. This is one of them. Your HR boss is probably a woman, and you do not have to actually say what is going on, or what you’re going through, but I can assure you that you’ll with you had an ally at work when it’s the 5th time in a week you’ve been late because of a doctor’s appointment that went waaaaaaaay longer than it should have, or the retrieval happens, and you need a week off with no remaining vacation time. This will most definitely affect your 9-5 job. It simply will. But it doesn’t need to be in a negative way. You need to be honest with yourself about the intensity of the procedure. It’s a commitment. Be prepared to make it fully.
8.) REST after your retrieval. My first cycle, I took 3 days off after my Saturday retrieval. So I was resting from Saturday to Wednesday. Wednesday rolled around, and there was no way on earth I could have gone back to work and been 100%. You know when your co-workers have a cold and they’re coughing and sniffing and gross and they say “I feel fine.” It’s great that you feel fine, but you’re not fine, and you’re germy and infecting us at work, and you’re far more useful when you’re well, so go home and get well. Same thing with your retrieval. For some people, it’s not an in and out procedure. Well, I suppose technically, it is. But it does take a toll. For me, it was like really bad cramps and PMS for a week — bur far more intense, remember it’s an under-general-anesthesia surgery. And if you show up for work, people will assume you’re okay to be there and you may not feel up to being there. This isn’t the case for everybody – many donors do bounce right back and return to work or school within a day or two – but every recovery is different. My pain tolerance borders on sociopathically high, but I was out for the count for a week solid (and that includes having a Darvocet prescription, which you will be unfortunately denied, as it’s been recalled… shame, really… ). Your body goes through the ringer, it really does. You need to be prepared to rest — you may feel fine, but one day of think you’re fine when you’re not could set your recovery back quite a bit. Listen to your body and make sure you do what’s right for you.
9.) Numb your injection area with a cold can of something. Every donor gets a mentor from the agency. Mine was Ellie. I called her my PO. She was, literally, my case worker. And she gave me the most important advice I have ever received, and no I pass it on to you: Before you inject, for 2 minutes — the entirety of a commercial break — hold a cold can/jar of something to your injection spot to numb it. A can of Coke works, a bottle of hot sauce works, a jar of olives works, whatever you have in the fridge. It’ll be COLD. But when you have to talk yourself into sticking a needle into your stomach, you’ll thank me. Well, thank Ellie, actually. The ONLY part of egg donation that freaked me out was the injection in the stomach. Um, gross. But this little nugget of advice saved me. You can inject without numbing, but that is so unnecessarily sadistic. Please just trust me on this. And don’t hesitate, just stick.
10.) The most important thing I can tell you is to embrace this adventure. It truly is an adventure. Unlike anything else you’ll go through. From the start of the screening process where you’ll speak with a personal medical historian of sorts… you will find out so much about your family, your health history, your future health cautions. And then you’ll get a complete blood work up, so if there is anything under the surface, you’ll find out that, too. All of no cost to you. And then as you start medications, you’ll feel your body change in a way you never would have otherwise experienced. You’ll learn, in no time, to listen to your body unlike you’ve ever thought to listen before. You’ll literally feel your ovaries grow and move inside you (they go from the size of a walnut to almost the size of a grapefruit), and you’ll feel your fallopian tubes pull from the weight of that dangling grapefruit when you try to lie on your side 15 days in… it’s all such a strange, unique process and not embracing the full experience is such a waste. Whether you donate one or 6 times, it’s never boring and it’s never the same twice.
- Kate Lee, www.askaneggdonor.com
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
When the year of the dragon – considered the luckiest Chinese lunar year – kicked off today, it brought with it more than the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. It also heightened the stakes for Chinese couples eager to have “dragon babies.”
Today’s Wall Street Journal features top fertility companies – including BHED – in a front page article that explores the recent surge in Chinese and Chinese-American couples undergoing egg donation and IVF treatments in hopes of having a child in the year of the dragon. According to the WSJ, “Chinese often schedule important life events to take advantage of the luckiest times [...] even though births are trickier to plan, in 2000, the most recent year of the dragon, 202,000 babies were born in Taiwan than a year earlier.” BHED Managing Partner, Robyn Perchik, was interviewed for the piece – noting the huge surge in contracts signed for Chinese egg donors in recent months as compared to the same period last year.
Check out the full article here:
Having a Baby in Year of the Dragon Is Too Lucky to Be Left to Chance
Monday, January 16th, 2012
BHED Managing Partner Robyn Perchik spoke to “The Fight” magazine about our role in helping same-sex couples create or add to their families.
Check out the article in the magazine’s December issue!
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
With the New Year upon us, and finding myself in a new and exciting relationship, I can’t help but be optimistic about the future. My mantra for 2012 (and life in general) is simply, “The best is yet to come!”
An entrepreneur by day and an MBA student by night, I thrive on keeping busy and the excitement of life! I am very involved in my community through various organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, American Cancer Society, Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, and the local Young Professionals group.
After graduating with my MBA, I plan to continue starting new business ventures and non-profits in the US and abroad, while traveling to exciting places like Greece, Costa Rica, and South Africa. I hope to be able to give back to those less fortunate in a very big way.
Being a future egg donor with Beverly Hills Egg Donation excites me because I know how special family truly is. The process of being selected and interviewed by BHED, and my own self-introspection about embarking on this process, has afforded me the chanc to re-evaluate myself, my motives, and my future ambitions.
I look forward to having my own family someday, and in the meantime, I’m happy to help others fulfill their dreams! I grew up in a wild and love-filled family of six, so I definitely understand the joys of children and family. There’s nothing more significant in life!
My friend recently posted this quote on her Facebook profile, and I just love it. It sums up what is to come if we trust in the process and do our part to dream and live our best lives possible.
“Welcome to the best year of your life! Let’s go places we’ve never been, do things we’ve never done, love like we’ve never loved, and make this the best year yet.”
Cheers to that, and all that is yet to come for you and your family in 2012!
- BHED Donor, Elizabeth #11574
Friday, October 7th, 2011
Lauren #12692 is 26 years old and lives in the greater Los Angeles area. She is available immediately and is very excited to help a recipient grow their family. Her personal essay is below.
“I am a middle child and only girl in my family. While most people think that means that it resulted in heavy brotherly and fatherly protection, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Being the only girl I learned to take care of myself, because I was outnumbered and not to mention the middle child. I think I always felt I had something to prove whether it was keeping up with the boys or being just as good as them in sports or hobbies. It most definitely gave me confidence and competitiveness.
Family is something I’m so proud to be a part of. My parents did such a great job showing us how lucky we are to have siblings and that we are all so loved. My childhood is a direct reflection as to what I want when I’m older, and I have my parents to thank for that. I look up to my parents a lot. When I think of all that they sacrificed for us it makes me realize how much you’re willing to do for your kids. They worked hard so that all three of us could have a private school education. They encouraged us to have extracurricular activities in music and sports and took us camping multiple times a year. I never thought growing up that I would want to be like them but now I enjoy doing all the things they instilled in us, like a passion for backpacking and hiking, football (my San Diego Chargers), music, art, fashion and being involved in my church and community.
I started volunteering at my church’s Sunday School, and I’m almost certain that’s where I fell in love with children and knew I was meant to be a mother. I continued to volunteer with children all throughout my schooling. That naturally lead me into babysitting as I got older and then becoming a certified nanny and volunterring at my pediatrician’s office.
I don’t think that every woman is born with a maternal instinct. I do know that I have it. And I do know that I can’t wait to have kids. And I have personal experience with friends who want kids but can’t have them. I can’t think of anything that would make me more heartbroken than coming to the realization that I could not have kids. It’s so amazing how far science has come in making things possible that were once so discouraging or seemed like the end of the road for some couples. I can’t imagine a better gift to someone than helping them have what I want more than anything.”
- Lauren #12692