Donor treatments

Having IVF treatment with donor eggs or sperm at one of our East of England clinics, including those in Cambridge, Colchester and Norwich, could help you achieve your dreams of parenthood.

Starting your own family is sometimes more challenging than first expected and you may need help from a donor – whether known or anonymous.

At Bourn Hall, we offer a range of treatments – using donated eggs, sperm or embryos – to help you on your journey to become parents.

Please select from the sections for more information on specific treatments or get in touch with one of our team to discuss in more detail.

There are other options available too, including free IVF options for egg and sperm sharers and our dedicated service for those wishing to become donors – please see the below links for more information:


Treatment with donor eggs

In some situations using donated eggs may be the best chance to have your own baby.

Despite the acute shortage of egg donors in the UK, we have a waiting time of only three to six months for donated eggs for your treatment – thanks to our innovative donor programmes.

Donated eggs can come from our egg-sharing programme, altruistic donors or the ‘gift of giving’ programme where a free IVF treatment cycle is given to a friend or family member of the egg donor.

In the latter case, the eggs donated are not used in your treatment but for other Bourn Hall patients who have no other chance of starting a family. Alternatively, we can arrange for someone you know to donate to you.

You need donated eggs if:

  • You have a premature menopause – this affects 1-2% of women under 40
  • Your ovaries have been damaged by chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer
  • You were born without functioning ovaries (for instance, Turner’s syndrome)
  • Your ovaries are resistant to stimulation
  • You are at high risk of passing on genetic disorders to your offspring
  • Poorly functioning ovaries as you get older

The donated eggs are fertilised using your partner’s (or donated) sperm and the resulting embryos transferred to your uterus. You will have treatment to prepare your uterus for the embryo transfer.

Eighteen days after the eggs were collected, you’ll be able to take a pregnancy test. If this is positive, you should attend one of our clinics in Cambridge, Colchester, Norwich or throughout the East of England, about 20 days later for a pregnancy scan.

We highly recommend counselling for donor egg recipients and Bourn Hall has a choice of specialist counsellors available for you.

Please note that, for patients receiving donor gametes or embryos who are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, it is important to ensure that the legal parenthood of both parties is properly established. The HFEA has produced a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide that you can download here.

For more information get in touch.

Instituto Bernabeu

We are delighted to be able to offer patients the opportunity to participate in our egg donation programme in collaboration with the Instituto Bernabeu based in Alicante, Spain. We have been running a highly successful programme in conjunction with them since 2011 with a success rate of over 60%.

You are able to have your consultation and any preparatory tests and treatments at our UK clinics before travelling to Spain for fertilisation and embryo transfer.

The Spanish clinic has an excellent international reputation and was chosen to partner with us as they share our quality standards and patient centred ethos.

Egg donors in Spain are fully health screened (including a psychological assessment) and only accepted if they have passed these stringent tests and can demonstrate proven fertility. Our Medical Director and Quality Assurance function regularly inspect the facility and procedures to ensure the highest standards of treatment and care are being delivered to Bourn Hall patients.

Treatment with donor sperm

Treatment with donated sperm may be the best way for you to complete your family.

Despite the national shortage of sperm donors, we run a number of initiatives to support our flourishing sperm bank.

We have a sperm-sharing programme, encourage altruistic donation and offer a free cycle of IVF treatment for a friend or family member of a sperm donor. In the latter case, the sperm donated is not used in your treatment but stored in our bank for future use for other patients whose only chance of a family is through the use of donor sperm.

This means that, at Bourn Hall, there is no waiting list for donor sperm. Alternatively, we can arrange for someone you know to donate to you.

You may need donated sperm if:

  • You have had cancer treatment, a vasectomy, injury, or are not producing your own sperm
  • You carry the genes for a known inherited disease, such as haemophilia or Duchenne muscular dystrophy, putting the life of a resulting baby at risk
  • Your blood type is incompatible with that of your partner. For example, if the female partner is Rhesus (Rh)-sensitised and the male partner is Rh-positive, the pregnancy is potentially problematic
  • You are a single woman or part of a female same-sex couple

You will have a standard IVF cycle and the donor sperm will be used in the embryology laboratory to fertilise your eggs. Sperm from our bank is rigorously screened and only released for treatment after a qualifying quarantine period.

One or two of the resulting embryos are then transferred to your uterus. Eighteen days after your egg collection, you’ll be able to take a pregnancy test. If this is positive, you should attend one of our East of England clinics, including those at Cambridge, Colchester and Norwich, about 20 days later for a pregnancy scan.

Counselling for recipients of donor sperm is highly recommended. Bourn Hall has a choice of specialist counsellors available to support you.

For patients receiving donor gametes or embryos who are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, it is important to ensure that the legal parenthood of both parties is properly established. The HFEA has produced a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide that you can download here.

Treatment with donor embryos

In some circumstances, such as when both donated eggs and sperm are required for treatment, embryo donation may be the best choice for you.

Our expert team will agree a personal treatment plan with you to help prepare your body for the donated embryo transfer.

We try to match the characteristics of embryo donors as closely as possible with those of the recipients requiring assisted conception.

Embryo donors will have had mandatory counselling before consenting to donation.

This course of action may have been suggested because your egg and sperm quality has been compromised, because of previous surgery, cancer treatment, the menopause or genetic disease. In addition, it may be because you carry a hereditary disease.

Counselling for recipients of donor embryos is highly recommended. Bourn Hall has a choice of specialist counsellors available to support you.

You will be prescribed medication and asked to attend for some monitoring appointments that include ultrasound scans. These help us to decide the optimal timing for the donated embryo transfer.

Following the thawing of donated frozen embryos, one or two can be transferred to your uterus through a narrow catheter passed through your cervix. This is the same method used in any embryo transfer procedure.

You’ll be able to take a pregnancy test about 15 days after embryo transfer. If this is positive, you’ll need to attend one of our East of England clinics, which include Cambridge, Colchester and Norwich, for a pregnancy scan about 20 days later.

For patients receiving donor embryos who are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, it is important to ensure that the legal parenthood of both parties is properly established. The HFEA has produced a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide that you can download here.