Patients who need egg donation, often after long infertility treatments, want to move quickly but still value choice. Feedback surveys and interviews show they want to choose from a list of fully screened and immediately available donors, would like to know as much as possible about them, and look for a clinic that can take full control over the process.
Survey data and interviews with parents who used CT Fertility’s egg donation program reveal that when selecting a fertility clinic, the timing, quality and level of disclosure about egg donations are top priority. While many also appreciate flexible financial arrangements, full medical, insurance and genetic counseling, and specialty medical options like PGD, these concerns were not always at the top. What all respondents agreed as important were immediate availability of a large pool of fully screened and potentially known egg donors, including from a frozen egg donor bank, a guarantee for a minimum number of eggs, and that the entire process be done by a single dependable team. “This confirms what we have been hearing anecdotally regarding both the reason patients chose our clinic, and what they were most satisfied with,” said Dr. Michael Doyle, founder of CT Fertility. “Often patients come to us after being asked by other clinics to go on a waiting list for many months, to choose a donor based on very little information, and with very few assurances about her medical suitability or even availability.”
CT Fertility has stated conducting systematic feedback surveys among patients in late 2011, and the results so far cover several dozen couples and singles that provided written responses, and some who agreed to in-depth follow up interviews.
“The decision to move forward with egg donation can sometimes take months or years, and many of our clients find themselves without children later in life than they expected,” Said Dr. Doyle. “So it is not surprising that once that decision is finally made, most patients want to proceed immediately. That is precisely why over the last twenty years we have worked hard to create a large pre-screened donor pool with absolutely no waiting list. Egg donation is an option people typically escalate into after several other expensive infertility treatments, so we also put much emphasis on affordability and reducing stress and anxiety levels. We offer a guaranteed number of eggs patients get in each of our programs, full disclosure of the donor’s profile and donation history, and even the ability to meet her in person.” The fact that the donors have all of their screening and monitoring done by the CT Fertility team, rather than outsourced at local clinics around the country, is one basis for the clinic’s ability to make this guarantee. In fact, CT Fertility’s “everything under one roof” design is often cited as a major advantage because the staff can really get to know each donor, identify and solve small potential issues before they become problems, and assure quality control at every step of the way. Indeed, many patients expressed the realistic concern that when donors are matched by outside agencies to the clinic, tested at various facilities, and flown in from around the country to donate their eggs, such assurance is often difficult and even impossible to create.
For Hillary and Michael Lesser from Pennsylvania top priority were fast matching and dependable full-service from one team for the entire process. Hillary was treated by several infertility doctors and eventually told that she will need an egg donation to become pregnant. A Philadelphia clinic offered to put her on their waiting list, suggesting that it may take a year or more until a donor is found. The couple instead found a first time donor through a specialized agency in Boston. They flew the donor in but the transfer did not result in a pregnancy, and none of the embryos survived to be frozen. “We were devastated,” said Hillary, “we lost all our money and had no fallback options. We asked if they had frozen eggs, and they told us that they have not yet perfected this option. We went online to see who has a reliable frozen egg bank, and found CT Fertility. We both felt we were older than we would have liked for becoming parents, so we had no time to waste.” The couple came to CT Fertility in June of 2010, chose eggs from the frozen donor egg bank, were pregnant 7 weeks later, and had their twins in April of 2011. “Dr. Doyle and his team were phenomenal, so much difference between them and other doctors – they took it from a to z, while in other clinics we were asked to do much more on our own… We are exhausted from taking care of our twins now, but exceptionally thrilled by the job CT Fertility did.”
Daphne DeAngelo from CT reported that the factors that were important to her were timing, donor availability, cost and a friendly dependable team. She found CT Fertility after trying other CT clinics and checking out independent egg donation services. “I did not like the inflexible and ‘factory-like’ attitude and protocols of the other places,” she reported. “They would only describe the donor to you, and will only show another after you rejected the first. Each time we came in we spoke to different people, they never knew who we were… The independent agency led me to believe they had many donors and a large recruitment effort, but only showed me 3 candidates over 7 months.” A friend recommended CT Fertility and there Daphne learned for the first time of the possibilities of not only immediate matching but also non-anonymous known egg donation. “It was much faster, more effective, which was important to us since we are already in our 40s. We had a complete genetic consultation that helped us focus on what was important, we found a donor we could meet right away and got pregnant on the first try. The philosophy and attitude were very different – we felt at home, it was more personal, they held our hand, helped us make decisions… We cannot say enough good things about Dr. Doyle and his entire team - every last person: nurses, coordinators, technicians – we felt very taken care of.” Having gone through prior expensive infertility treatments, Daphne was also concerned about insurance coverage and costs. “We were reassured by the fact that CT Fertility uniquely offered free insurance screening before we started, the more affordable egg bank option, and a guarantee for a certain number of eggs.”
Lorrie Mirizio, CT Fertility’s egg donor coordinator, have seen many of patients like Hillary and Daphne who were disappointed by the availability and quality of egg donors in some outside agencies. “Despite the expectation that these agencies have many donors on their lists, people often wait for a long, long time. Since the vast majority are not yet screened, the number of qualified donors is much smaller than what you see on the website. Furthermore due to non-exclusive listings (sometimes a donor is on 10 websites simultaneously) many donors that are no longer available, yet they are only taken off the list after someone asks for them.”
Jane Warren from NY had three IVF cycles with Manhattan clinics before the quality of her eggs was deemed too poor to continue. One New York clinic explained that to match her with an egg donor she needs to create a ‘wish list’ of attributes, and they will try to find a match. They were not going to show her more than one option, and not even a picture. The other NYC clinic she tried was going to also provide very little information on donors: one photo and basic physical attributes (like eye and hair color). While Jane did not feel she necessarily needed to meet the donor in person, the matching process of these clinics was for her a nonstarter. “I found CT Fertility and immediately clicked with Dr. Doyle,” she recalls. With exhaustive medical history, full genetic analysis, long personal questionnaire and several photos, she was ready to proceed. “It was very important to me that they offered the most disclosure and a better sense of confidence about what you get,” Jane reported in the follow up interview. Jane, already in her early 40s, proceeded to have a son after a single embryo transfer, and a year later a daughter from a frozen embryo transfer.
Tania Odell from NJ put the emphasis in her interview on speed of the matching, the option to meet and know the identity of her egg donor, and keeping the entire process under one roof. Also in her 40s, Tania came to CT Fertility for its reputation for around the clock full service and effectiveness. She wanted her donor to be recruited, screened, monitored and treated by the same team, to increase control and effectiveness.