Little but not zero risk seen with egg donation

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Young women who undergo ovarian stimulation so that eggs can be retrieved for donation experience few complications, but some risks remain, New York-based researchers report.

“When we recruit a young, healthy woman as an egg donor, we owe her the safest possible care,” investigator Dr. Ina N. Cholst told Reuters Health.

“Our observations,” she continued, “reassure us that the risk involved in egg donation is relatively low, but also emphasize that even when all care is taken, complications, both serious and minor, do occur.”

Cholst and colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College studied data on 587 donors who underwent 973 cycles of controlled ovarian stimulation, resulting in retrieval of 886 eggs.

Although infrequent, serious complications occurred in 0.7 percent of cases, mainly affecting the ovaries, the team reports in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.

There were also 75 minor complications (8.5 percent) that were severe enough to prompt the donor to seek medical attention. Most required only one office visit, but a few donors required three or four such visits.

“As we care for a young woman who wishes to donate eggs,” concluded Cholst, “it behooves us to make every effort to minimize risks that she may experience and to be clear in providing informed consent concerning those risks.”

SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility, December 2008.

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