Oocyte cryopreservation for donor egg banking

Cobo A, Remohi J, Chang C C, Nagy Z P,
Reprod Biomed Online. Sep. 2011 doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.05.014
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Oocyte donation is an efficient alternative to using own oocytes in IVF treatment for different indications. Unfortunately, 'traditional' (fresh) egg donations are challenged with inefficiency, difficulties of synchronization, very long waiting periods and lack of quarantine measures. Given the recent improvements in the efficiency of oocyte cryopreservation, it is reasonable to examine if egg donation through oocyte cryopreservation has merits. The objective of the current manuscript is to review existing literature on this topic and to report on the most recent outcomes from two established donor cryobank centres. Reports on egg donation using slow freezing are scarce and though results are encouraging, outcomes are not yet comparable to a fresh egg donation treatment. Vitrification on the other hand appears to provide high survival rates (90%) of donor oocytes and comparable fertilization, embryo development, implantation and pregnancy rates to traditional (fresh) egg donation. Besides the excellent outcomes, the ease of use for both donors and recipients, higher efficiency, lower cost and avoiding the problem of synchronization are all features associated with the benefit of a donor egg cryobank and makes it likely that this approach becomes the future standard of care. Oocyte donation is one of the last resorts in IVF treatment for couples challenged with infertility problems. However, traditional (fresh) egg donation, as it is performed today, is not very efficient, as typically all eggs from one donor are given to only one recipient, it is arduous as it requires an excellent synchronization between the donor and recipient and there are months or years of waiting time. Because of the development of an efficient oocyte cryopreservation technique, it is now possible to cryo-store donor (as well as non-donor) eggs, maintaining their viability and allowing their use whenever there is demand. Therefore, creating a donor oocyte cryobank would carry many advantages. In the present manuscript, the current experience with oocyte donation using cryopreservation technology is reviewed. The outcomes of two recently established donor egg cryobanks at Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad in Spain and Reproductive Biology Associates in the USA (involving a large number of cases) demonstrate that egg cryo-survival is high and that fertilization, embryo development, implantation and pregnancy rates are similar to those reported after fresh egg donation. It also provides additional advantages of being more efficient, more economical, easier for both donors and recipients and potentially also safer, because eggs can now be quarantined for 6 months (or longer) to retest for infectious diseases in the donors. It is the opinion of the authors, based on several advantages associated with the use of donor egg cryobanking, that in the future there will be fewer traditional egg donations and increasingly more cryo-egg donations.