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Nine women register with Japan’s first ‘ovum bank’

Kyodo, Staff Report

Nine women have registered with Japan’s first “ovum bank” to donate their eggs to help infertile women, paving the way for fertility treatment to begin within the year at the earliest, a private group said Monday.

The Oocyte Donation Network, which offers support for women suffering from ovarian function problems such as premature menopause, has also listed three women as prospective recipients.

“(The registered donors) had strong will to help others,” Sachiko Kishimoto, who heads the group, told reporters in Tokyo. “We hope for more people like them” to donate their egg.

The group, which is made up of doctors specializing in fertility treatment and patients’ representatives, began soliciting on Jan. 15 donors who are willing to donate their eggs for free.

Since then, over 100 women have offered to become donors and 42 filled out and returned medical interview sheets. Nine women passed the criteria as donors following blood tests and other screening.

The three recipients, meanwhile, were chosen out of 13 people on May 2 based on age and blood type, the group said, adding it will continue to match more donors to patients.

One of the recipients voiced thanks for the egg donation in a letter, saying she had no choice but to gave up having a baby when she found out that she was unable to ovulate.

“I felt sorry for my husband when I found out that I cannot conceive. I’ve always blamed myself. . . . But when I heard (that I was chosen as) a recipient, I was so happy that I could not stop crying,” said a woman in the letter read by Kishimoto.

The program will coordinate the donation of eggs to women, who have no eggs due to congenital abnormalities or disease, or those who have age-related fertility problems.

The group seeks donors who are under 35, have given birth and whose husband consents to registering as a donor. They will not receive any monetary compensation.

The process of carrying out in vitro fertilization or harvesting eggs from donors will take place at private fertility treatment facilities nationwide.

While the group will continue to accept donors, Kishimoto said it does not plan to register new patients for now.