Wednesday, March 13, 2013

[Australia] - Monash IVF Announces "World Egg Bank" Service for GLBTI People

In what is welcome news for all Australians, particularly GLBTI people living in Victoria, Monash IVF have just announced an arrangement with the World Egg Bank to allow intended parents the ability to import donor eggs to assist in Altruistic Surrogacy in Victoria.  The service also applies to Queensland, however as we know the Queensland government has recently banned gay men from utilising surrogacy in that state. Update: altruistic surrogacy is STILL available for gay men in Queensland!  (Thanks Sam Everingham for the update!)

One of the most difficult aspects of doing altruistic surrogacy in Victoria is trying to find an egg donor.  Finding a surrogate is difficult, but as Victorian Altruistic surrogacy relies on gestational surrogacy, the intended parents also need to find an egg donor.  This service offers a solution to a problem that many gay couples are facing.

Gay Dads Australia contacted Monash IVF to confirm that GLBTI people would have the same access to the service as heterosexual couples and we are please to advise that we had this confirmed this morning by Monash IVF.  There is one proviso for Victoria and that is that this arrangement between Monash IVF and The World Egg Bank receives VARTA (Victorian Assisted Reproduction Treatment Authority) approval.  Monash IVF indicated that they were hopeful that they would receive that within the month.

The cost of the service is AUD $19,000 which may appear quite expensive but is in line with similar costs for obtaining an egg donor in the USA.  Unlike most egg donor agencies in the USA, the World Egg Bank arrangement with Monash IVF will supply only altruistic egg donors.  This has been a practice used in the UK (which has similar laws) for many years.  The $19000 package allows for 7 retrieved eggs however you can pay extra for more.

Full details are available at the Monash IVF site and details of the FAQ are reproduced below.

The World Egg Bank

If you are considering importing donor eggs from The World Egg Bank (TWEB) in the United States the following frequently asked questions for a potential recipient woman or couple may be helpful.

How are TWEB egg donors recruited for Monash IVF patients?

The egg donors made available to Monash IVF clinics in Australia donate altruistically or ‘gift’ their eggs to a recipient woman in Australia who is unable to have a child using her own eggs.

Age of egg donors

The egg donors available to Monash IVF (Australia) recipients are aged between 21-29 years.

Background of donors

The donors can come from all sorts of backgrounds and circumstances, for example: Caucasian, African American, Asian etc, they may be married or single, have children or may have never been pregnant.

 Medical screening

All the TWEB donors available to Monash IVF have been rigorously screened for a wide range of known infectious diseases, psychiatric and family medical history to the same standards required here in Australia.

Compliance with Australian legislation and regulations

All TWEB donors available to Monash IVF recipients have been thoroughly counselled under Australian and Victorian legislation. They are required to have signed consent forms to allow them to be contacted in the future by children (after turning 18 years) who may be born as a result of their donation, in accordance with the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (in Victoria) and National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines (NHMRC) 2007 in Queensland.

Victorian patients must obtain approval from VARTA.

What information is available to me about the donor?

Photos of the donors and all of their non-identifying information, (that is information that will not disclose the identity of a person, for example, their place of birth and occupation) including a detailed family medical history are available to assist potential recipients make choices of a suitable donor.

How many viable eggs could I expect to receive?

The TWEB guarantees 7 frozen eggs will be available for each recipient woman or couple who goes ahead with the process. TWEB will guarantee a thaw survival rate of 4 eggs. If all eggs fail to thaw TWEB will guarantee a full replacement of the eggs. If there is a less than 60% thaw rate, but a clinical pregnancy, then TWEB would not replace the eggs. A clinical pregnancy is defined as a foetal heart beat on first pregnancy ultrasound scan around 5-8 weeks post embryo transfer. If there is a less than 60% thaw rate and no clinical pregnancy, TWEB will replace the number of eggs that did not survive the thaw at TWEB expense, less half the shipping costs.

Please note that in any IVF cycle, not all eggs fertilise or develop. There is always a risk that no transfer will result due to fertilisation failure or poor development. This is not covered under the guarantee and there is no refund.

How will it all work?

As a recipient you will choose a donor from the donor information available on the TWEB website. During this process Monash IVF will assist you and liaise with the TWEB.

The donor will have hormonal medications to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. At a time during her treatment cycle the eggs will be stimulated for final maturation and release. These eggs are surgically collected and subsequently prepared in the laboratory for freezing in preparation for transport to your Monash IVF clinic. Please note that there may be a quarantine period of 6 months before the eggs can be used.

Your recipient treatment cycle

The frozen or “vitrified” eggs will be thawed by an embryologist in Monash IVF’s laboratory. The eggs will be inseminated with your partner’s sperm or donor sperm (if applicable). It is anticipated that at least 4 eggs will survive the thawing process. After fertilisation and the formation of embryos, the embryos will develop in the embryology laboratory for 3-5 days until they are ready to be transferred into your uterus. Monash IVF recommends that a single embryo is transferred and any remaining embryos frozen for your future use.

This type of treatment cycle is called a VOT (Vitrified Oocyte (Egg) Thaw) cycle. Fees apply and refer to The World Egg Bank Financial Fact Sheet. Monash IVF recommends that you elect to thaw all eggs, inseminate them and after your embryo transfer, freeze any remaining suitable embryos. However, you may choose that only some of your eggs are thawed and inseminated. In this case, the embryologist would only thaw the requested number of eggs for insemination and the other eggs would remain frozen.

What happens if the egg donor produces less than the expected number of eggs?

You are able to choose a new donor and another donor cycle is undertaken at no cost to you.

What happens if you change your mind?

If you change your mind after the donor has been activated by TWEB, and you no longer want to use the eggs in a treatment cycle, you are not entitled to any refund. You can decide if you want the eggs to be left in storage for a possible future use, dispose, or donate to another woman for no cost. The responsibility of their fate lies with you as the recipient who imported them for your own use. N.B. The costs of ongoing storage will be your responsibility.

What if I would like another child using the same egg donor?

If you have had a child as a result of an egg donation from the TWEB and no eggs or embryos remain, you may request the same donor to donate to you again, so that potentially a biological sibling for your child is possible. However, the donor may not agree to donate again.

Donor registers

All children born as a result of TWEB egg donation in Australia to Monash IVF patients will have identifying information about them, their parent(s) and their donor(s). This information will be registered at the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages and the Central Register in Victoria as per Victorian legislation (ART Act 2008) and in Monash IVF clinic files in Queensland in accordance with NHMRC Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research (June 2007) and the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) Code of Practice.

Can I take my eggs to another clinic?

Access to TWEB donors via Monash IVF can only occur if the eggs are to be transported to a Monash IVF clinic in Australia and if the treatment will occur at Monash IVF. Please note that Monash IVF is facilitating the egg donor arrangement only if the donated eggs are to be used at a Monash IVF clinic. Monash IVF has gone to great lengths to obtain permission to utilise these eggs for patients attending Monash IVF clinics in Australia. To ensure compliance with the legislative and regulatory requirements for import, Monash IVF will not endorse the transportation of eggs donated from TWEB to any other clinic. All birth details relating to the use of these eggs must be maintained by Monash IVF to ensure compliance with a 10 family / birth mothers limit in Australia.

How do I get started?

We recommend that you book an appointment for a free information session with a Monash IVF Counsellor or Donor Egg Program Coordinator to discuss your options and the donor egg process using TWEB. You can book this appointment through the enquiry form or by calling:

Victoria: 03 9429 9188

Queensland: 07 3345 4455

1 comment:

Fertilityconnection said...

Thanks for sharing the information. Similar to the infertile couples, the gay or lesbian couples also want to enjoy the joy of parenthood. Such regulations will make it easier for such people to become parents through surrogacy.