I want to share my experience so far with donor egg ivf in Greece and to give information to others who may be considering going abroad for their treatment - it's not as scary as you think!
A FRESH donor egg ivf in Greece, costs between 5000-6000 euros. This includes EVERYTHING except the cost of the medications that you require to prepare your endometrium for the egg transfer. Cost for your meds that you buy in Canada are approx $500 depending on what your needs are. In my case, the meds are 100% covered by insurance, so check your insurance company too.
The cost you pay to the clinic (we are dealing with Iakentro Clinic in Athens) includes:
- the donor's fee, the donor's medications, the donor's screening and donor's medical fees,
- the egg retrieval
- the sperm collection and sperm washing
- ICSI if it is needed
- assisted hatching
- transfer of 5 day blastocists
- all of the recipients medical needs at the Greek clinic
- vitrification (freezing) and storage of embryos/blasticists fo 5 years.
There is no agency fee for the donor.
You pay for your flight, accommodation and meals in Greece. The travel costs can be greatly reduced if you have your treatment in the Spring, Fall or Winter because summer travel/stay in Greece is more expensive. So choose a smart travel time.
The difference in cost between North American treatment and European treatment, even when you consider the travel costs is absolutely ridicuous! We looked at going to the US, and the costs for egg donor ivg would have been around $35,000 including travel, compared to $10K including travel in Greece.
You will need to stay in Greece for 10 days. Iakentro schedules your treatment with the egg donor in such a way that you can actually plan ahead for your travel and take advantage of reduced fares. It is smart to buy a ticket that you can change travel dates without too much penalty. Same thing for hotel reservations - choose something you can cancel without a fee.
Even when you add the cost of travel for Greece, it is still far less expensive than donor ivf in North America.
Because there is a shortage of donors in Canada, many couples (like us) cannot find an altruistic donor. We searched for a donor for a year in Canada. Everyone wanted to paid for their eggs (I am not passing judgement, just stating our reality). As you know, Canadian law prohibits paying a woman for her eggs. And now, with the recent changes the law in late 2012, it is nearly impossilbe to reimburse an egg donor for her expenses too! This is no longer a viable option for many couples in Canda.
We have inquired with the Canada Revenue Agency and were advised that if our doctor writes a letter to support our need to search for a donor and treatment abroad, then we can submit the cost of the treatment AND the travel expenses as deductions on our tax return. Nice!
It is important to note that if the treatment fails, and you had frozen eggs left over, the intended mother would need to return to Greece for another cycle. The cost of the thaw and transfer of the eggs is minimal (about 1000 euros), but the stay in Greece would be much shorter (only a few days). Still WAY cheaper than North America, even with a second trip.
WHO ARE THE DONORS
You never get to see the donor because egg donation is completely anonymous in Greece. At first, that made us worry a bit about not having full control, but after speaking with two clinics in Greece, and a British fertility nurse we know who worked in four clinics in Greece and Spain, we were advised that the Greek clinics have thousands of young donors of many different nationalities. Many are university students under 25. The clinics work very hard to match the donor and recipient based on looks (eyes, hair, complexion, height, blood type, and nationality) and also consider other "requirements" such as education, interests, etc. You provide them with a picture of yourself, one of your partner, and any kids you may have had together already and they work hard to find your match. I honestly believe that they likely choose the same donor that you would choose if you got to pick from pictures yourself. If you can make this leap of faith, you than this is an option for you.
Added bonus: they always idenfity a back up donor that is also very closely matched to you, just in case something does not work out along the way.
They will give you information on both of the donors (nothing that you can trace them with) and you get to approve the donors before proceeding.
There are no waiting lists for donors. It takes about 2-4 weeks to match you with your donors because the clinics have extensive donor lists of all nationalities available. People from the UK, for example, are very big international users of Greek clinics for egg donation.
Note that there is a provision in Greek law to allow the identity of an egg donor to be revealed at a later date, should there be a need to have important medical information related to the child that was born from the donor's egg.
Greek clinics do more extensive donor screening than anything I have seen in Canada or the US. They screen for far more STDs, more genetic and hereditary diseases, and do a full psychological work up. And I don't just mean getting a list of family illnesses from the donor, but they actually run genetic and medical tests for certain diseases, immune issues, etc.
In addition, the clinic we are with only uses PROVEN donors meaning that their egg donation resulted in a pregnancy that was verified by ultrasound. The back-up donor, however, may be a first time donor.
One of the unique things about donor programs in Greece is that they follow the donors medically for a considerable length of time after the donation to ensure ongoing health. This is in STARK contrast to North American clinics who do not track donors in any way, much less offer free medical check-ups post donation/
I also find that Greek clinics ask for a few more tests (done in your own country) on both the intended mother and father. Not too many more, but you can see that they want to make sure that the couple is in the best health to provide the sperm and to receive the egg transfer. I am extremely expressed.
Greek clinics are reporting pregnancy rates (confirmed by ultrasound) around 65 to 70% per egg transfer with donor eggs. I have heard that Spain also has excellent care and excellent success rates. They are a little bit more expensive than Greece. American and Canadian pregnancy rates (confirmed by ultrasound) average closer to 55 with donor eggs.
QUALITY OF TREATMENT
European countries are leading the fertility/ivf world in terms of research and cutting edge practices. Do a google search and you will see what I mean. The UK is particularly advanced and is currently practicing the most advanced embryo selection procedures in the world with outstanding success. The other european countires are now adopting these methods as well.
Last thought: A world reknown reproductive endicronoligist from the UK recently costed out the TRUE cost of one IVF cycle. He included in his calculation the costs for all medical testing, generously paid medical pesonnel, and all overhead such as equipment, building costs, etc, and guess what the actual cost of one cycle really costs a medium sized clinic that does 2000 ivf procedures a year in the UK?
700 euros. ($1,000 Canadian)
We are completely sold on our choice, and are so happy to have found this information about ivf in Greece. Our fresh egg transfer will be at the end of July. We will be advised of the details of our donors next week, so if people show interest in this topic, I would be happy to post our experience along the way, so we can all judge for ourselves!
Warm wishes and good luck to everyone. I help this may have helped someone else!