The Cryoport® team had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Lucy Solie-Vilker, Director at Donor Nexus. Donor Nexus is one of Cryoport’s highly valued reproductive medicine clients and strategic partners. In our discussion, we held conversations around Donor Nexus, the donor industry, and Lucy’s experience working with Cryoport®. If you or someone you know may be looking to start a family with a donor or looking to become a donor yourself, this blog provides useful tips and information, so keep reading!
Tell our readers more about Donor Nexus and what you do. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Lucy: Donor Nexus is an egg and embryo donation agency founded in 2012, with a primary mission of providing affordable donation options to parents. This includes what is today known as our Shared Hope Cycle™ program where there is more than one recipient to an egg donor, reducing the overall costs without compromising success. We then started to grow an egg bank which is another option for parents to receive frozen eggs instead of the traditional fresh eggs. We also partner with HRC Fertility on an embryo donation program, which is when a previous patient has completed their families and has embryos left and is willing to donate for another patient’s cycle. As you can see, we offer many different programs depending on what families want and our focus is to help all parents find a program that works for them regardless of their financial situation.
As a Director at Donor Nexus, I oversee all aspects of our business, from donor management, patient care, the various programs we offer, and business development. I really enjoy helping parents have children. It’s an innate want to procreate and have children, so being able to help them out during this stressful period of their life emotionally, financially, and physically, and to be able to give the gift of what they want most, is such a great feeling.
Can you explain to our readers how Donor Nexus gained the reputation of being a world-renowned egg and embryo donation agency?
Lucy: We have a lot of patients in Australia since our inception, because egg donations in Australia are not compensated and have stricter regulations that make it difficult to find egg donors in the area. Due to those difficulties, we had a large patient group coming from Australia right off the bat. I moved to Australia for a while to build out that part of our business and formed close relationships with local clinics to ship frozen eggs there. With the help of Cryoport®, we were able to evolve to other countries by shipping frozen eggs domestically and internationally, so we have good relationships with clinics in multiple countries today.
We are aware that Donor Nexus offers many different egg donation programs. How do intended parents know which program is right for them?
Lucy: The parents will go through a comprehensive consultation with us so we can identify a program specific to what they are looking for. We have our traditional fresh egg donations, our frozen donor egg bank, and our shared donation program. It varies between parents depending on how many kids they want, their budget, any desired traits, and more.
Any words of advice or considerations for those looking to become a donor?
Lucy: There is not only a financial component to being a donor, but also physical and mental components. It takes a time commitment and can be hard on your body, but it is truly a wonderful gift you can give to somebody. Unfortunately, not everyone is qualified to be a donor because we do go through an extensive screening process to find healthy donors that meet the requirements for our patients. Potential donors also need to be emotionally prepared for it as it is not a quick easy buck, but we are here with you every step of the way. We are donor advocates and understand that donating eggs is only one part of their lives and they can back out if they decide to at any time during the process.
Any words of advice or considerations for those looking to start their families with a donor?
Lucy: Please do your research and ask questions ahead of time! Think about all of the “what if” questions such as “what if the donor backs out?” or “what if the eggs don’t thaw?” This is good information to know to prevent any surprises down the line. There are many egg banks out there, so set up multiple consultations to make an informed decision. Know all your options that are available to you. The more prepared you are, the less shocked you will be!
Building a family through egg donations can be costly. What are some financing options that Donor Nexus offers to aspiring parents?
Lucy: We work with a loan company called CapexMD that provides fertility loans. In terms of our program fees, we do not collect all payments upfront because we understand that can be a huge burden for our patients. We collect deposits first to secure eggs and/or donors and then there will be time to pay the rest.
What prompted your organization to partner with Cryoport® to provide the frozen shipping services as opposed to other transportation & logistic providers?
Lucy: We were initially referred to Cryoport back in 2013 and it has been a great experience ever since. The pricing, constant communication, and industry expertise makes us truly believe that Cryoport is the place to go. I’ve used other shipping companies in the past and the level of service and value isn’t comparable to what I can get with Cryoport, and now I wouldn’t use any other service provider. The data condition monitoring and insurance options are also a plus because not all logistic providers can provide that. The pricing isn’t a big factor for us because this isn’t like shipping a shirt. These are irreplaceable tissue materials and paying that premium is worth it if that gives us and the patients peace of mind that the shipments will arrive safely and on time. The proactive and open communication with Cryoport on shipment updates help alleviate the stress, knowing the shipment is in safe hands. This also makes it easy for us to communicate information to the intended parents.
Describe your experience working with Cryoport® and our local delivery service, Cryoshuttle®.
Lucy: Since working with Cryoport, we have only continued to add shipments every year. It is such a straightforward and easy experience to work with you guys, especially for international shipments where we need to deal with customs and complicated overseas regulations. I don’t need to worry about that because I trust that the Cryoport customer service team will take care of it. Cryoshuttle® has been very useful for shipments to local clinics and it is amazing how we can track every detail regarding the shipment including driver motions with state-of-the-art routing software.