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What is the World Egg Bank?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 16 Feb 2011 | comments*Discuss
World Egg Bank Egg Donation Infertility

The World Egg Bank is an organisation based in the USA, which operates worldwide to match up childless couples who are experiencing long standing infertility to obtain donor eggs to start their family. It is run commercially but is non-profit making and aims to enable prospective parents to choose an egg donor on the basis of many different characteristics.

The World Egg Bank was started by Diana Thomas, who continues to play a big role in its development. Diana has herself faced infertility. After marrying in her early 20s, she and her first husband started having tests for fertility after trying for a year to have a baby. After several years of further tests and disappointment, the couple split and divorced and Diana found she then had the same problem when she met and married her second husband. After several failed IVF attempts, the couple were left with only two choices; egg donation or adoption.

The Emotional Side of Egg Donation

This was over 10 years ago and Diana Thomas found that the support for couples who wanted to take the route of a pregnancy using donated eggs was very poor. She was given the profiles of two potential donors and given very little choice. She felt that women and their partners needed to know more about the women who were donating the eggs they would use and so set about finding her own donors. She put adverts in the local paper for students who were healthy, had no family history of hereditary illness, and met them all for coffee. She got to know one who she later paid to donate eggs and gave birth to a son as a result.

After eventually having three healthy children, Diana wanted to help other women to have the choices that she had made for herself by taking the initiative to advertise for egg donors. She started up several companies before teaming up with some of the USA’s leading fertility specialists to form the World Egg Bank.

The Work of the World Egg Bank

The World Egg Bank has now become a leader in the technology that underpins egg donation. Work by Jeffrey Boldt published in 2005 showed that frozen donated eggs could be used to start viable pregnancies and the organisation has now helped pair up 2000 parents with suitable egg donors. It continues to research and pioneer egg donation and egg banking technology.

Cryopreservation and Egg Banking

At the start of 2009, the World Egg Bank received $1.5 in funding to set up the world’s largest egg registry. This means that egg donors from all over the world can submit their eggs to the bank; these are the frozen and the profiles of the egg donors are recorded and stored, ready to match up with prospective parents. A woman can choose a donor who has the same hair, eye and skin colouring as she does, so that the children born from the pregnancy using the donated eggs will have a better chance of looking like her natural child.

The World Egg Bank supports couples and donors as they go through the process and they have made it a rule that it is the parent’s decision whether to allow the donor to be a part of the child’s life. Some parents prefer to use the donor eggs and then remain private from the donor but others have wanted the egg donor to become involved in the family, if they wish to, and to form a bond with the child as it grows up.

Diana Thomas has received wide acclaim for her work in setting up the World Egg Bank, which now provides a rare service that is invaluable to childless couples struggling with infertility.

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