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22-Oct-2019

Anonymous miracle-workers: sperm and egg donation in Latvia

The donation of gametes is legal and anonymous in Latvia. Clinic EGV, an ISO 9001 certified IVF clinic in Riga, explains how the selection process for sperm and egg cell donors works.

Altruistic motivation

The experience at Clinic EGV is that people who have been in despair about an inability to conceive, have the best understanding of why gamete donation is important.

"We have observed that gametes are actively donated by those people who have relatives or friends who have faced problems related to infertility," says Dr Zane Vitiņa, Head of Clinic EGV and Gynaecologist-Reproduction Specialist. “Men and women alike donate sperm and egg cells voluntarily and thus help couples or single women, who are unable to conceive a child on their own. There are many cases where a woman decides against having children of her own, but chooses to give the opportunity to someone else who really wishes to be a mum, but is unable to do so.”

Sperm donation

According to Latvian legislation, a man aged between 18 and 41 years in good mental and physical health can become a sperm donor. Donors are carefully selected by means of health screening, including tests for infections, AIDS, hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted diseases and genetic disorders. They also have to undergo psychiatric assessment and are tested for drug use.

At Clinic EGV, they have found that the most active sperm donors are men who have experienced infertility problems themselves. They talk to couples who have already undergone infertility treatment at their clinic; if a man has good quality sperm, he is usually happy to become a donor because he understands how it can help others to become parents. Students and other young people donate sperm as well and the Clinic actively conducts informational campaigns to this end. In addition, they work to raise public awareness and promote empathy by highlighting how important it is to donate sperm and egg cells.

Sperm donation is suitable for couples where the male partner has infertility or health problems, single women and homosexual couples.

Being able to donate sperm that can be frozen and stored also offers men who are facing a decrease in sperm quality, as a result of cancer treatment for example, the chance to create a ‘reserve’ should they decide to have children in the future.

Egg donation

Egg cell donation is a more complex process than sperm donation. The technique is suitable for those women who, due to a medical condition, previous surgery or other reasons such as early menopause or exhausted ovaries, are unable to conceive a child using their own eggs.

Latvian law states that egg donors must be aged between 18 and 34 and be in good psychological and physical health. In addition, the decision to become an egg donor must not be spontaneous or poorly thought through. At Clinic EGV, every woman who wishes to become a donor undergoes an in-depth consultation which addresses the fact that the procedure is not simple, but with a careful approach presents no danger to the donor’s health or life. Should the doctor consider that a particular donor has certain risks, these are discussed individually.

The egg donation process at Clinic EGV takes place on the second or third day of the menstrual cycle. Within a period of 10 - 14 days the donor needs to perform injections at certain times and regular ultrasound scans are performed to monitor the speed of growth of the follicles. When follicles have reached the right size and the egg cells are ready to be removed, follicular puncture and egg cell collection is performed under general anaesthesia. After the procedure, at the beginning of the next menstrual cycle, the donor comes for a repeated control visit.

Donor anonymity

Donors in Latvia are anonymous and their anonymity is protected by law. Even if the donor would like to find out the identity of the child born from their egg cell or sperm cell, this is not possible. The child also cannot ever know the identity of their anonymous miracle worker. This does not mean, however, that reproductive cells are assigned randomly - future parents are able to know the height, weight, skin colour, hair colour, eye colour, blood type, Rhesus factor, degree of education and health history of the donor.

 

About Clinic EGV

Clinic EGV is a leading reproductive health and infertility clinic in Riga, Latvia. A popular destination for overseas patients, the clinic offers the latest European standard technologies from a team of highly qualified doctors. Committed to providing personalised, affordable fertility care, Clinic EGV established Latvia’s first sperm bank and runs its own egg donor programme.

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