Gamete donation is an alternative fertility option chosen by a number of couples when they find themselves unable to achieve pregnancy with their own reproductive cells. Either because they produce poor-quality gametes, or because the patient lacks an opposite-sex partner, turning to third-party reproduction may bring success to many intended parents.
Normally, the first option is always using the intended parents' own gametes. Unluckily, this is not always possible, and that is when gamete donation becomes the treatment of choice. By double-donor IVF we mean the use of both donor oocytes and sperms for an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure.
Children born through IVF treatment using both donor eggs and sperm will not share the genetic characteristics of their parents. Assuming this may not always be that easy, and that is why many prospective parents seek psychological counseling before getting started with the process.
In Cyprus, the process of double donation is considered to be the same as an embryo adoption or donation. Thus, taking into account this term, we can find two different procedures:
- Embryo donation from the embryos created using the eggs and sperms of two anonymous gamete donors
- Embryo donation from the excess embryos remaining after the IVF cycle of another couple
This is an aspect that makes Cyprus different if compared to other countries, since embryo adoption is understood by other destinations as the use of leftover embryos, and not as the creation of gametes from donor gametes as well.
Oocyte and sperm donation in Cyprus
The Cypriot Law 69 (I)/2015 on the application of Medically Assisted Reproduction is the one governing access to fertility care in this country. In accordance with it, gamete donation must be based upon anonymity and altruism. Subsequently, both premises must be respected in the case of double donation as well.
Donors should have reached the legal age, and be entitled to their full legal capacity. As for men, they should be aged 45 years or less, and in the case of women, not older than 35.
Also, candidates will only be accepted into the donation program as long as they provide the results of a medical and psychological screening the will have undergone previously, proving they are actually free from genetic or infectious diseases.
Donor recruitment will be carried out according to the blood group system and the Rhesus factor.
Another important aspected addressed in the Cypriot set of regulations is that embryos cannot be created using donated gametes if no receiving couple has been selected previously.
In addition to the high success rates this treatment allows us to reach due to the high quality of the gametes used, double-donor IVF has another plus: how easy the process can turn out to be for recipients.
The following are the steps involved in this procedure:
- Sperm collection, generally by thawing a small portion of the sample the man previously donated.
- Egg retrieval. Depending on whether it is a fresh or frozen egg donor cycle, synchronization between the menstrual cycles of the donor and the recipient may be necessary. Synchronization is difficult to attain.
- Union of the human egg and sperm in the laboratory
- Assessment of fertilization
- Preparation of the recipient's endometrium
- Selection of the embryo or embryos for the transfer
- Embryo transfer
- Freezing (vitrification) of high-quality unused embryos
The steps the receiving couple should follow are simple, since the only medications the recipient has to take are due for endometrial preparation. They help the uterine lining acquire a triple line pattern and reach a thickness of around 8 mm.
When it reaches these characteristics, the uterus is prepared to receive the embryos after the transfer, and allows them to be able to implant and lead to a pregnancy.
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