Donor selection: how to find a donor that’s right for you?

Explained by: Joshua Rackstraw, Fenomatch
Category:
How to find a right donor.
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From this video you will find out:
  • How does the Fenomatch algorithm work?
  • Does Fenomatch help with finding egg as well as a sperm donor?
  • What about ethnicity verification?
  • How accurate is Fenomatch?
  • Can anyone have access to Fenomatch?

How can I find a donor that looks like me?

Watch the webinar with Joshua Rackstraw, Product Owner at Fenomatch, who is explaining the idea behind Fenomatch and the algorithm that helps doctors find the right egg/sperm donor for the recipient.

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Questions and Answers from the event

Does epigenetics play a big part in influencing the baby when the mother is carrying a donor embryo?

Yes, this is something that your doctors will be able to help you with, essentially. When the mother is carrying the fetus, the embryo is developing. It’s something you should definitely consider. I do think it’s something you should talk to your doctor about.

Do you cooperate with clinics only in Spain or elsewhere as well?

We are from Spain, I’m actually English, but Fenomatch is from Spain, and we work around Europe. We’re also in Southern America, India, Asia basically more or less worldwide. We’re not in the US yet, there is a slightly unusual situation because legislation depends on the states, but because most of the time, the donation is non-anonymous, the situation with legislation is a little bit different.

Are the results provided by the Fenomatch algorithm displayed as you have a 45% match f. e.?

Yes, basically, this is one thing that’s really important to us. We give the medical team all of the information to allow the expert to make the best decision for this patient. There is a notification if a donor receives a particularly low score. If there is a very little facial resemblance then the doctor is notified, but essentially, the doctor is the one that makes the final decision.

My clinic works with an agency that recruits donors for fresh transfers. How would you describe the additional benefits of using your service instead?

You wouldn’t be using our service instead. What we do at Fenomatch is we connect, we have a facial algorithm, facial matching algorithm, which can be used to access donor databases that are held externally to us. If you’re recruiting donors for fresh transfers, then essentially you’d need photographs of the donors, and then your clinic would be able to offer the facial matching service to patients, which is beneficial because it helps you to find the donor with the greatest facial resemblance to the recipient.

Is there a list of clinics that you work with?

Yes, because of the slightly complicated world that we live in, we can’t be promoting certain clinics over other clinics. I can say that we work with over a hundred clinics including some of the really big ones. What I’m going to do in this case, you can get my contact details and if you could tell me the whereabouts you’re looking for. If you tell me the country f. e. that you’re in, I can tell you the clinics that we work with in that country.

Do you know any clinics in Spain who have egg donors that are blue-eyed, blond, tall, thin, and sporty build? Where in Spain I can find most of these donors?

The short answer to this question is yes. There are clinics in Spain that have -eyed, blond, tall, thin, and sporty. Where in Spain, you’ll find most of these donors, there’s not one zone that has many of these donors and another zone that doesn’t. In general, one of the problems with donor availability tends to be for ethnic minorities here in Spain. I think that a donor you’ve described is not really going to be a problem. Most clinics should have donors that match those phenotypes.

Is this Fenomatch algorithm at an added cost, and if so, how much?

This again depends on the clinics. They have their own pricing structures. Sometimes it’s included within the package of IVF, other times, it’s at an added cost. It’s something you need to speak to the clinic about it because it’s often part of a much more complicated pricing structure that involves a great many other services.

I have a treatment protocol planned, and phenotype matching was not mentioned. Could I ask for your service?

Yes, it’s the short answer to this question. I want to be very clear about this because I know how stressful it can be when you’re partway through this process, it’s most likely that you’ve had some phenotype matching done but maybe not facial matching. I’m sure that those basic phenotypical traits have been done and to answer the second part, yes if you speak to your clinic and you ask your doctor, and you mentioned Fenomatch, they will be able to get in touch with us, and any clinic, anywhere in the world can have access to our platform within 24 hours, so yes.

Does a clinic need a baseline number of donors to allow the search to work properly? So Fenomatch is good for all sizes of clinics?

Essentially, Fenomatch has two functions. Number one is the set, and number two is the facial comparison. If you’re doing the search, the answer, of course, even if you have a small donor database, the search function still works. In terms of facial comparison bigger the donor database, the better. The last test that I did, it was going through 600 human faces, which is, of course, an enormous amount of data for the computer to process, and it’s still able to find facial resemblance, so to summarize because I got distracted answering that question, it works with any number of donors but the more donors there are, the more accurate the results we get. And to answer the second part of the question, yes, it’s true, it doesn’t depend on the number of donors that are in a data bank, and it doesn’t depend on the size of the clinic at all. Of course, the magic really happens when you have a large group of donors, but that’s independent of Fenomatch. You can find the one with the greatest facial resemblance that way.

Can I send you my picture and you can see where to find the best donor match?

I’m very sorry, but this is not actually possible because of the legislation here in Spain but also at a European level, the donor information is private, it’s sensitive information, and at Fenomatch, we don’t have access to that. My advice would be that you spend a little time on the Internet looking for two or three clinics that you like, you feel comfortable with, that you think is more or less in your price range. Then speak to them directly because you’re going to need to find some clinic you feel comfortable with, that would be my advice. I wish you the best of luck with your treatment.

What type of evaluation have you done on your product? Do you do comparative studies on facial features after birth?

We had our first Fenomatch babies, and I think this was probably sometime at the end of last year that we had those first babies that had been born with the facial matching performed by Fenomatch. There is a very practical problem, which is that the non-technical way of describing this problem is that all babies have kind of very similar faces with very chubby cheeks etc. The technical explanation here is that the facial features are not fully developed in a baby, so we’re going to have to wait a very long time to really see, to do this sort of test. However, I can talk a little bit about the evaluation that we have done, so in 2019 at the ESHRE conference in Vienna, we published some information about the evaluation, we did on the algorithm. So essentially, we compared the facial matching done by the algorithm with facial matching performed the traditional way, so that means a doctor or a medical team looking at faces and comparing, the results of the algorithm were very, very good compared to the human evaluation. Like I said, more or less two weeks ago, I did a test with 600 human faces where I asked the algorithm to identify two brothers that were in this data set, and it was able to identify the brothers accurately in a question of seconds.

Can you compare the similarity between two women and find one same donor for both?

If, for example, we have a lesbian couple that’s looking for a sperm donor, then we would have the egg from one of the women. On the other woman, we would perform the Fenomatch, so in that case, the donor assisted child will get the genetic mother’s DNA from the egg and the phenotype matched genetic material from the donor with the facial resemblance to the recipient’s partner. We can use a photograph of women to look for men, and we can use a photograph of men to look for women without any problems.

I know these donors have been tested of course od disease?

What you’re thinking about there is carrier screening, this is not something that Fenomatch works on directly, but it’s almost something that’s entirely universal, not just testing for diseases, but also doing carrier screening to see what genetic disorders that could be inherited via recessive genes. I think overall, the best thing to do in this case is to speak to your clinic and speak to your doctor.

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Authors
Joshua Rackstraw

Joshua Rackstraw

Joshua Rackstraw is the Product Owner for Fenomatch, an algorithm that helps doctors find the donor with the greatest facial resemblance to each patient. Clinics around the world use Fenomatch every day. A native Englishman, Joshua has been living and working in Spain for the last 10 years, and Fenomatch has helped over 6000 families choose a donor.
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Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is an International Patient Coordinator who has been supporting IVF patients for over 2 years. Always eager to help and provide comprehensive information based on her thorough knowledge and experience whether you are just starting or are in the middle of your IVF journey. She’s a customer care specialist with +10 years of experience, worked also in the tourism industry and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. When she’s not taking care of her customers and patients, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things or spending time outdoors.

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