How to begin your egg donation treatment in Europe if you’re based in Australia?
Australian patients interested in IVF often consider receiving treatments abroad. While the United States are geographically closer, the costs of treatment often discourage patients from seeking help in America. Europe, then, quickly emerges as a more budget-friendly alternative, offering the same – if not better – quality of care as in the United States. How do you plan your treatment on the other side of the globe? Where do you start? Which country do you choose?
To help us find an answer to these questions – and more – we invited three experts to share their experience and knowledge with our Aussie readers.
Our experts in 3on1 #IVFANSWERS are:
- Dr Luboš Vlček, GYNEM Fertility Clinic Prague, the Czech Republic
- Dr Jennifer Rayward, ProcreaTec, Spain
- Dr Elena Santiago, Clinica Tambre, Spain
Answer from Dr. Vlček
So, IVF treatment in Europe with egg donation, specifically in the Czech Republic, is quite easy. The Czech Republic is a small country in central Europe, which is often a point of interest for patients all around the world, because of the very liberal laws and regulations and clearly priced treatment of infertility. The Czech Republic is a part of the Schengen area, so if you get a visa for the Schengen area, there is no problem. There are many countries worldwide which are offering IVF treatment with donor eggs, but the infrastructure here is very good, with very good equipment, and it has been built for years, thanks to the laws introduced in 2005. Nowadays, there are more than 48 clinics in this small country. The start in our clinic is very easy, you go on the internet and type “donor eggs Czech Republic” and you get a link – our company is called gynem.cz
You keep in contact with our coordinators, and they start to chat with the patients. After a short chat, the coordinators exchange email addresses with the patients, then the coordinator sends the most important information via email and this is the beginning of the whole communication process. Afterwards, they discuss the time for the appointment or for the Skype consultation with the doctor, where the doctor should answer any of the patient’s pressing questions. Afterwards, the coordinator takes over the process again. Usually, the treatment starts in Australia, so before we exchange emails, we contact the patient(s), we pair up the donor and the recipient, we start the synchronisation of the cycles, for example by the birth control pill. This synchronisation between the patient and the donor usually takes two to three months, and afterwards, the patient can come to the Czech Republic, especially on the day when the eggs will be collected as we will need the sperm from the partner. The eggs will be fertilised with the sperm from the partner, and then later, at the stage of the blastocyst, the embryos will be transferred. So, it means that for the patients, it requires a 7-10 day stay in the Czech Republic and afterwards they can return to Australia.
Answer from Dr. Rayward
For our patients who live outside the country, we have an international department that coordinates their treatments. We first ask our patients what dates they are available to be in Spain, and we plan from there. About six weeks before the egg retrieval date, we send the donor’s characteristics to the patient. Since donors are anonymous here in Spain, we can only tell the patient the blood type and the physical characteristics. We have a dedicated nursing team who is responsible for finding the best match for every recipient. We offer our patients every opportunity to speak with the nursing team and to communicate their queries. The nursing team uses the latest technology for the selection process. We recently incorporated a facial recognition software for our donor database so that when a recipient asks for a donor, the software identifies, based on biometric information, who the best matches are. The nursing team then presents the results to doctors, and a proposal is put forth for the patient to give the final approval. Once the patient accepts the donor, we send a treatment plan so she knows exactly what to do each day. We’re in constant contact with the patients to make sure that the cycle goes smoothly.
Answer from Dr. Santiago
Clinica Tambre has wide experience with egg donation treatments with patients from abroad. What we do, is we keep in touch with them by Skype or by e-mail, so that we can explain the whole process to them – we also need them to give us their medical histories and we will ask for blood tests before starting with the process. Afterwards, when that is done, we will schedule rough dates for the treatment – normally we synchronise the donor with the woman who will undergo the treatment for the endometrial preparation. We can give all these instructions by e-mail or Skype as well, and they can do all the preparation with their doctor in their home country. Afterwards, when the endometrium is prepared, we will advise them when the donor is going to do the retrieval, and on the same day as the retrieval, we will need the sperm sample for the fertilisation, and five days after, we will do the embryo transfer. So, we will only need to have the patients here in Spain on the day of the egg retrieval for the sperm sample and five days after for the transfer. They can even go back home the same day as the embryo transfer. As you see, it’s quite easy to do these types of treatments – we can keep in touch all the time, and we have many patients doing this process and the distance doesn’t matter. Even with patients coming from Australia, for example, they come to Europe for this type of treatment and we have experience with Australian patients.