While surrogacy is a practice that has been used as far back as Biblical times, the history of egg donation begins in much more recent times with the very first transfer of a fertilized egg from one individual to another happening in mid-1983 at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine. The first baby that was a result of an egg donation procedure was born in February 1984.
The egg donation process entails one woman who provides one or more of her eggs for the purpose of assisted reproduction, although some harvested eggs may also be used for medical research. The eggs that are used for reproductive purposes are then fertilized in a laboratory and the resulting embryo is placed into a woman's uterus in order to fulfill the remaining process of development until the child is born.
In the first egg donation procedure, an egg that had been fertilized and was starting to develop was transferred from one woman who had been artificially inseminated to another who carried the embryo to term and gave birth to the child.
Since that time, it is estimated that more than 50,000 children have been born as the result of donor eggs. In the U.S. alone, egg donor cycles are thought to have a success rate of approximately 60 percent.
Because there can be legal issues to contend with regarding the use of donor eggs, there have been laws passed based on this procedure. For example, the Uniform Parentage Act states that the intended parent is to be given complete and total responsibility of the child that is born via this process.
There have been a number of very favorable laws, as well as certain guidelines, regarding the compensation that may be given to an egg donor as well. In the U.S., fertility medicine falls under the term third party reproduction and it is considered to be a part of Assisted Reproductive Technology. There are also guidelines that have been established by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine as well as by the FDA.
Egg donation has opened the door to many opportunities for both those who wish to have children, as well as those who wish to help others attain their dream of having children of their own. In many cases, egg donation has allowed women a way to conceive and give birth to children that will be theirs biologically, yet not genetically. Gestational surrogates are oftentimes used whereby an embryo is implanted in her uterus and then she carries out the remainder of the pregnancy term.
In these cases, women who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to have a child due to poor egg quality, no eggs at all, or the threat of passing along a genetic disease or disorder can still become mothers. Due to this procedure, individuals and couples who were previously unable to conceive children naturally were given fresh hope of being able to start or expand their families.