I've researched just about every potential donor agency and clinic from California to Ukraine.
I'm not kidding.
And here's where we landed.
Overseas Egg Donation
Although the cost is significantly lower because programs are run by the government,
there is complete anonymity so you don't even get a photo of your donor. Also, the screening is not as stringent since drugs, smoking and drinking are more socially acceptable in other countries. Lastly, the thought of traveling to a foreign country when the best clinics in the world are in the US didn't make a lot of sense to me. Not to mention, the stress of international travel and language barriers are just too much. We ruled this option out pretty quickly.
Staying at CCRM
Although we would like to stay at CCRM because of their high success rates (83% success on fresh donor cycles), their in-house donor program doesn't work for us. To protect the privacy of their donors, they only provide recipient parents with child photos of the donors and there aren't very many donors to choose from. Most other in-house programs and third-party agencies provide child and adult photos. Some agencies even provide videos of the donors so you can establish a connection with them and get a sense for who they are. We'd really like to know more about our donor.
If we want to go to CCRM but use an outside donor agency in Denver, we would have to pay about $6,000 for the donor's physical, psychological and genetic screening. If the donor doesn't pass, we loose that money and have to start from scratch with another donor.
That is too risky for us.
Searching for a new clinic
The most recent SART success rates for the last year available (2012) just came out at the end of February. When they were released, I looked at the best clinics this side of Denver to be closer to home. Unfortunately, our local clinic does a small volume of donor cycles per year and their results aren't too impressive. So we decided not to go back there.
The best two clinics in the West are San Diego Fertility Center and Oregon Reproductive Medicine in Portland. With 72% and 77% success rates, respectively, on fresh donor cycles. They both perform over 100 donor egg fresh cycles per year which is 5x the number of cycles performed at our local clinic. So we got it narrowed down to these two.
Sunny SD vs. P-Town
Both programs are similar however San Diego offers a little more flexibility and their in-house donor database is more robust than Portland. If we choose to go with a known donor or third party agency donor, San Diego will screen the donor with a $1,000 deposit. If the donor doesn't pass, we can apply those funds to one of their pre-screened in-house donors.
Portland works similar to CCRM but the cost to screen outside donors is less expensive at around $3,000. But if the donor doesn't pass, we would still lose that money. At this point, I'm an super risk-averse so this isn't as appealing as San Diego.
The other consideration is travel. Flights to both locations are about the same cost and travel time. But we have family in San Diego which would alleviate the need for lodging which is a big expense.
So San Diego wins.
Establishing with a new doc
We had a phone consult with Dr. H at San Diego Fertility Center. I found him to be very knowledgeable and patient. He took the time to go over all of my questions without making me feel like he had somewhere else to be. Although the clinic seems to have a much more laid back approach than what we've become accustomed to in Denver, I do think that we would be in good, capable hands.
I even found a few pluses over Denver that I wasn't expecting.
- More consistency and accessibility -
I'll have access to my doctor and nurse via email and my doctor will perform our egg retrieval and transfer. At CCRM, I didn't have access to Dr. S via email and he didn't perform either of my two egg retrievals.
- Advanced technology and different philosophy -
SDFC has the ability to do PGS genetic screening with results in 24 hours so that you can do a Day 6 fresh transfer. I don't think we'll take advantage of this but it's nice to know that it is an option. And if you do the screening, they will disclose the sex of the embryos if you have a gender preference. Again, that doesn't really matter much to us but nice to know we have the option if we want it.
- SDFC tagline -
How perfect is their mantra
"Hold on to your dream…"
It totally speaks to me at this point in our journey. At the end of the day,