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Every year, tens of thousands of couples trying to conceive are only able to have a child with the help of an egg donor.

The medical process of becoming an egg donor in the state of Illinois is the same as anywhere else, but the legal process of becoming an egg donor is unusually straightforward. Egg donors in Illinois are far more likely than in other states to donate their eggs in closed proceedings to surrogate mothers.

Since 2005, the Gestational Surrogacy Act has spelled out the rights of egg donors and intentional parents in very clear terms. As long as the surrogate mother is:

  • Over 21,
  • Has given birth to at least one child of her own,
  • Passes medical and mental health evaluations,
  • Is provided her own legal counsel, and
  • Has insurance coverage for prenatal care and delivery, and

The parents:

  • Show a medical reason for using a surrogate,
  • Pass their own mental health examinations,
  • Enter into any legal agreements with the help of their own counsel, and
  • Contribute either the egg or the sperm, then

The baby is considered unquestionably the child of the intended parents, not the egg donor. This legal clarity opens many opportunities for egg donors that are not available in surrounding states. Largely due to the clarity of the law, and resulting lower legal fees, many Wisconsin couples trying to conceive use assisted fertility clinics located in Chicago and employ egg donors and surrogates living in Chicago, as long as the egg donor or surrogate is an Illinois resident. Illinois legal procedure is much less complicated than in some other states, notably California. Medically, the procedure for becoming an egg donor in Illinois is much the same as any other state.

A woman who wants to donate her eggs calls a fertility center for an application. The questionnaire asks about her physical characteristics, such as height, weight, eye color, hair color, skin tone, and so on, and also about her education, family background, employment, and hobbies. The fertility center matches the donor to a possible recipient, and there is further testing.

Medical exams, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, a psychological assessment, and genetic counseling are all done before acceptance into the egg donation program. Then the donor is given injections to prepare her ovaries for the release of multiple eggs (usually 10 to 20). Some of the injections are given at the clinic and the donor gives herself some injetions at home.

The actual collection of eggs is done under sedation, much the same as for a colonoscopy. The obstetrician locates the fallopian tubes with ultrasound, and then collects the eggs through a hollow needle inserted through the vagina into the uterus and the ovaries. The procedure may or may not be unpleasant, but the medications keep the donor from remembering it later.

Most women have little or no soreness and are able to go back to work the next day. Women usually are permitted to donate eggs five or six times, up to the age of 35. Unlike some states that prohibit payments for egg donation, such as Florida, egg donors in Illinois may receive compensation, often between $2,500 and $10,000, for their participation in the egg donation program, payable by the fertility clinic, not by the parents.

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