Most soon-to-be moms relish wondering who their baby is going to look like: Mom or Dad? But that sort of curiosity is sometimes dismissed when a couple chooses egg donation to conceive. At least, that's how it's been in the past.
Enter Ovobank, the first European egg donor bank (located in Spain) that helps reproduction centers match fertility clients with donors who resemble them. All they need is the app and a selfie.
The company's recently launched Ovomatch app, which can be downloaded for free on any mobile device, is a facial-recognition system that uses a mathematical algorithm to find donors who most resemble the recipient.
To request a match through the system, all a mom-to-be has to do is enter her personal data (name, address, passport ID), followed by phenotypic characteristics (blood type, height, hair color, etc.). Though it's not mandatory, the recipient is also given an opportunity to enter her partner's information.
Once the data is complete, the system anonymously connects patients to an extensive database with more than 4,000 donors, finding the best match based on the recorded criteria.
But wait—it gets better. The recipient is then asked to upload a "selfie" for further analysis.
Within seconds, the system applies a mathematical facial-recognition algorithm to the scanned image to reveal which donors (and how many) best resemble the recipient—all while maintaining complete anonymity.
“In Spain, where both [in-vitro fertilization clinic] FIV Marbella and Ovobank are based, egg donation is anonymous, so the patient can’t choose the donor as it is done in some countries,” Dr. Enrique Criado Scholz, general director of the two companies, told Digital Trends. “It is the medical professionals that have the responsibility of finding a donor that matches the patient’s phenotypic characteristics.”
Once the patient selects a donor and payment is secured, the eggs will be shipped to a collaborating center of her choice.
According to the Ovobank website, there are "numerous and exhaustive diagnostic tests (medical, genetic, psychological, etc.) that take place" prior to accepting donations. Most egg donors within the Ovobank system are women who are approximately 25 years old, in good health (physically and psychologically) with a secondary or higher education.
Though a quick search for the Ovomatch app yielded results only for the company's delivery tracker, Scholz claims the matching service is already being rolled out internationally and will be "available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.”
Regardless, it’s only a matter of time before facial-recognition technology becomes the gold standard for egg donation worldwide. Once that happens, all bets on "who the baby is going to look like" are sure to be genetically rigged for Mom.