The first egg bank in Japan is expected to register initial donors by midmonth to help infertile young married women have children, Oocyte Donation Network (OD-NET) said Thursday.

The nonprofit organization, founded last November by doctors specializing in fertility treatment and patients’ representatives, started soliciting egg donations in January. Thirty-eight women have so far been selected from the more than 100 who have applied, the group said.

The Kobe-based NPO is in the final phase of registering them for the bank.

“When we called for egg donations in January, we were anxious about whether anyone would volunteer to offer their eggs. But, to our surprise, so many people called in, offering to donate their eggs,” Sachiko Kishimoto, the head of OD-NET, told The Japan Times.

Donors must be under 35 years of age and already have children. Each woman must also agree to disclose her personal information if a child born from her egg requests it after turning 15. No money is paid for the eggs.

“The hurdle to be registered as an egg donor is very high. Yet, the 38 people met all the requirements,” Kishimoto said. “They have a surprisingly deep passion for helping others.”

Twenty women with ovarian defects have already registered as potential recipients. No more are being accepted at this time. Recipients must be infertile, married and under the age of 40, the group said.

Donors will receive at least three counseling sessions at a fertility treatment clinic over a six-month period to ensure they understand the health risks and other issues they may face. Only then can they give their final consent to the donation.

In vitro fertilization from donated eggs occupies a gray zone in Japan.

There are no clear guidelines or laws regulating the use of eggs from a third party.

For this reason, many people travel overseas, commonly to the U.S. or Thailand, to receive treatment.

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