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Ask the Expert: What you need to know about egg donation to grow your family

A family is created in many different ways and the use of an egg donor is a process many women are turning to in order to start their families. There are a number of reasons why someone may need to take the path of using an egg donor and there are also local experts who can help guide you through the process to ensure you are protected.

We wanted to learn a little bit more about egg donation and if you’ve found this article, you probably want to learn more too. We sent a social distancing friendly Q & A to Roia Barrios, a mom of three and attorney whose Tampa firm specializes in Assisted Reproductive Technology law.

Let’s talk basics first. How does the egg donor process work? 

You can choose to work with a donor or use frozen donor eggs from an egg bank. In either case, you use sperm to fertilize the egg to make embryos. The embryos will then be implanted into the Intended Mother or a Surrogate.

What are some questions I should ask myself and my family to decide whether we are good candidates for the egg donor option?

First, you should meet with a reproductive endocrinologist to evaluate your fertility needs. You may need to pursue egg donation because you have mature eggs, poor egg quality, or a genetic abnormality. If you choose to pursue egg donation, you will decide if you want to do a fresh cycle or use frozen eggs. The benefit of using a fresh cycle is that, if you have specific Donor criteria, you may not find that in existing frozen eggs. The benefit of using frozen eggs is that the process may be quicker and less expensive.

Why is it a good idea to hire a lawyer to help guide me through the process?

You need to hire a lawyer so there is a clear agreement regarding each party’s obligations during the process and who ultimately obtains ownership of the eggs. This is especially true when you are doing a fresh cycle. The Intended Parent(s) are responsible for the costs associated with the retrieval and for reimbursing the Donor for any pain, discomfort, and inconvenience. If you are working with an egg bank, you will want an attorney to review and negotiate the terms of the agreement to protect your rights and financial obligations.

Am I able to select the egg donor and how do I know they’ve been honest about their genetic history?

You are able to select an egg donor. Many people, when possible, try to find a donor that shares similar traits such as hair color, eye color, height, ethnicity, and even education level and profession. You cannot guarantee that a donor has been honest about her genetic history, but the clinic performs genetic testing to ensure that the donor is a suitable candidate.

Is it possible to have a friend or relative donate their eggs to help me grow my family?

Yes. This is not uncommon. She would need to be screened first, though, like any other candidate.

What are the costs associated with conceiving a child via an egg donor and will insurance help cover the costs?

Insurance generally does not cover the cost of using an egg donor. The cost varies from clinic to clinic and whether you want to use fresh or frozen eggs. If you elect to do a fresh cycle, you can do a shared cycle to split the costs with someone else who would also like to use that donor’s eggs. The process costs approximately $15,000 to $25,000.

How long will it take from the day I decide to proceed with the egg donor option to pregnancy?

It can actually take several months to a year which is why it is never too early to start the process.

Can I keep additional embryos if I decide to have another child?

Yes. Because there is an agreement that the eggs belong to you, any created embryos will also belong to you.

Anything else you want to add about the process?

I think it is important to know that egg donation is becoming increasingly common. Approximately 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. This is especially true as women are waiting longer to start families.

Tell us about yourself and why you decided to focus on this area of law and what other services does your firm do to help families?

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35 years old, I met so many young women who still hadn’t completed their families. For many of them, the idea that they would not be able to have more children was the hardest part of their diagnosis. There have been so many advancements with oncofertility and assisted reproductive technology that a diagnosis of cancer or infertility does not mean that you cannot have or grow your own family. My firm is dedicated exclusively to assisted reproductive technology (ART). We represent Intended Parents in all parts of their journey and Surrogates who are hoping to help Intended Parents create their families.

About Roia:
Roia Barrios is a graduate of the University of  Florida College of Law. She and her husband Brad have 3 children and 2 dogs. When she isn’t advocating for clients, Roia is active in the community as the Vice President of the Gasprailla International Film Festival and a sustaining member of the Junior League of Tampa.

Firm bio:
My firm is dedicated exclusively to the practice of Assisted Reproductive Technology law. We represent both domestic and international clients in gestational surrogacy agreements, preplanned adoptions, and donor agreements. We are proud to work with all types of families, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, and marital status.

Learn more:

Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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