What to Look for in a Gamete Donor

Like choosing a gestational surrogate, selecting the right gamete donor — whether you need an egg, sperm, or both — can be difficult. You might not be sure what to look for in a potential donor, but this person will contribute 50 percent of your child’s genetic makeup, so it’s important that you choose wisely!

If you’re beginning your search for an egg and/or sperm donor, this guide will help.

Anonymous vs. Identified Donors

First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to work with an anonymous donor or an identified donor.

An anonymous egg or sperm donor has a profile that usually includes basic, non-identifying information about the donor’s health, appearance and a bit more. It’s usually noted on each profile whether or not the donor is to remain anonymous or is willing to be identified if the need arises for more information in the future.

An identified egg or sperm donor, also called a known donor, is willing to provide their identifying information or exchange contact with the intended parents before or after the intended parents’ child is born. There is more information offered about these donors to intended parents through their profiles, and these donors are willing to talk to you and your child if contacted.

Identified donors can also be someone that you know, like a close friend.

Today, many professionals recommend using an identified donor whenever possible. Research on open adoption has shown that a child’s knowledge of his or her genetic history can be incredibly important, not only for medical purposes, but also for identity development and emotional wellbeing.

The 6 Things You Should Consider in a Potential Egg or Sperm Donor

The importance of each of these points will probably rank differently to everyone, but you should consider all of them when looking at a potential donor. In no particular order, here are the six things you should keep in mind for a donor:

1. Health

All egg and sperm donors must meet certain health requirements before they may donate. Check with your individual professional to learn more about their criteria for donors, as these requirements can vary. Generally, donors must prove that they’re in good health through a medical screening process, and must provide family history on both sides. Keep in mind that nobody’s family health history is spotless, including your own.

The surrogacy process also includes preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and prenatal testing to look for, prevent or potentially treat any birth defects, disorders or diseases that could be present and genetically inheritable.

2. Blood Type

Having a child who shares your blood type can be helpful in an emergency, in the event that one of you needs to donate blood to the other. This is a lower priority for most intended parents, but if a donor you feel drawn to matches your blood type or your spouse’s, it can be an added benefit.

3. Appearance

For many intended parents, having a child that looks like them or their spouse is important. Identified donors are usually asked to provide current photos of themselves as well as a childhood photo so you can try to imagine what your child might look like if you work with a particular donor.

Remember that the appearance of your child is largely guesswork. For example, maybe both of your parents were very tall, and you’re barely five feet tall. Your fertility specialist can help you find donors that match what you’re looking for appearance-wise, but nature can still be unpredictable, so don’t get too caught up in finding someone who looks just right.

4. Intelligence

Similar to the health requirements, sometimes donors must meet minimum education requirements as a means to measure intelligence and drive. This may mean having at least an undergraduate degree, meeting minimum SAT scores or other educational accomplishments.

There are many different kinds of intelligence, and a person’s interests and upbringing can play into how they perform in certain fields academically. While your donor may affect your child’s intelligence to some extent, genetics are not the only determining factor in intelligence.

5. Personality

It can be difficult to feel as if you know someone through an online profile, but often, a donor’s personality shines through. Certain personality traits can be genetically influenced, in addition to being affected by a person’s environment and upbringing.

Perhaps you’re hoping for a child to share in your sense of humor, and you’d like to find a donor who also has that same personality trait in the hopes that it might be passed on to your child. Or maybe you admire a certain personality trait, like a special talent that a donor has, and you hope your child might receive that gift, too. Either way, personality may not always be inherited by a child, but it’s an important thing to consider in a potential donor nonetheless.

6. A Connection

This is likely the most important thing to look for in an egg or sperm donor. When you view a potential donor’s profile, you’ll hopefully feel a sense of connection with the right one. Many intended parents describe a sense of “rightness” or of having a thought of, “That’s the one.”

Nobody is absolutely perfect, so if a donor meets most of your preferred criteria but doesn’t check off all of your boxes, don’t worry — especially if you feel a connection with that donor.

The best advice for intended parents who are choosing an egg or sperm donor is surprisingly simplistic, but very effective — trust your gut. If you have any questions about using donor gametes in surrogacy, or if you’re ready to start the surrogacy process, call 1-800-875-BABY (1-800-875-2229) now.