About 10% of all fertility treatments we perform involve donor sperm, donor eggs, donor embryos or surrogacy.
Technically, donor treatment is simply IUI or IVF using somebody else’s sperm, eggs or embryos – but there are important social, ethical and legal aspects involved in using a donor.
Sperm can be come from a personal donor (often a family member or friend) or a clinic-recruited donor, and the sperm can be used in both IVF and IUI (in a process called Donor Insemination or DI). We strongly encourage people to consider a personal donor, since the demand for clinic donors is much greater than the number of donors available.
You can also read our becoming a sperm donor section here.
We will recommend that you use eggs donated from a personal or clinic donor when:
- A woman has undergone early menopause
- Eggs are not fertilising or developing normally
- The chance of pregnancy is low because of age-related factors
Donor eggs are used during IVF, with the egg donor undertaking the first part of the cycle.
It’s common for people who have tried unsuccessfully to have a child by IVF using their own eggs to then consider using donor eggs. Donor eggs may be provided by a family member or friend; alternatively, we can help with recruiting a donor – advertisements are managed by our clinic, and once a donor is chosen by you we’ll screen and prepare the donor for treatment.
A woman’s age is the most important factor determining the quality and quantity of her eggs – you can read about this in more detail on our ‘How age affects fertility’ page.
You can also read our becoming an egg donor section here - and see our donor video. If you are looking for a donor - you can also share this video through social media with your reference name attached.
Surrogacy involves a woman other than the biological mother carrying and giving birth to the baby for a couple. It may be an option when a woman no longer has a uterus; when pregnancy is dangerous to her health; or when there is evidence that a woman not becoming pregnant, despite repeated fertility treatment, is probably due to a uterine cause.
In IVF surrogacy, the couple who want a child undergo IVF but the embryo is transferred into the uterus of the surrogate. In IUI surrogacy, the surrogate becomes the egg donor as well.
Surrogacy in New Zealand requires approval by ECART, obtaining legal advice, and prior arrangements for adoption following the birth of the child.
Many same sex couples use reproductive technology to help achieve their dream of having a baby. There are many ways technology may help LGBTI families, such as the use of sperm donors, egg donors and surrogacy, or freezing sperm. Fertility Associates has extensive experience helping people consider their options, and helping people through the legal framework that is associated with particular treatments such as surrogacy.
Once a couple has completed their family following IVF treatment, they may still have embryos stored. In this scenario, the couple have the option to donate these embryos to another couple who have not been able to conceive through fertility treatment.
Embryo donation requires ECART approval and careful preparation by both the donors and recipients, because if a child results from the donation the two families will have children who are full siblings to each other.
Combinations of donors
In special cases, it is possible to use a combination of donor services as long as at least one of the people seeking treatment has a biological ‘stake’ in the pregnancy. For instance, a woman can use donor sperm and donor eggs, and have the resulting embryo transferred into her own uterus.
ECART approval is needed whenever a combination of donor services is considered. Please see Useful Links below for more information.
Donor treatment and surrogacy come with important social and ethical responsibilities, and all are highly regulated in New Zealand to look after the interests of the children, the donors and the surrogates as well as the couple or single woman who want a family.
ECART applications are always needed for surrogacy, embryo donation, and sperm or egg donation between family members who are not brothers, sisters or cousins. An example would be a mother donating eggs to her daughter.
Donors must be identifiable. Under the HART Act, we must notify the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages whenever a child is born using donor sperm, donor eggs, or donor embryos donated after August 2005, or when a child is born following surrogacy. Births, Deaths and Marriages hold basic identifying information about the donor that can be accessed at any time after birth by the parents or by the child when he or she reaches adulthood.
We also recommend counselling at this time to help in to exchanging information. You can learn more about our counselling services in our ‘Counselling and support’ section.
As part of our service to donors and children born through donor programmes, we also offer donor linking – a programme where we can link children with their donors.
As children grow and become young adults, it can be important for them to understand who they are and where they come from. For children born from donor egg or sperm, part of this can involve swapping information, which can range from the briefest of details to people meeting.
Support every step of the way
We have a team of trained counsellors who specialise in providing support during fertility treatment. Especially in areas when a donor or surrogate is required.
More helpful information
- ECART information and advice
- Pathways Booklet 15/16 - Donor options and surrogacy
- Pathways Booklet 15/16 - Receiving donated eggs
- Pathways Booklet 15/16 - Becoming an egg donor
- Pathways Booklet 15/16 - Receiving donated sperm
- Pathways Booklet 15/16 - Surrogacy
- Pathways Booklet 15/16 - Donor Embryo
- HART Act information sheet
- Real story - accessing a sperm donor
- About storage