Facial recognition can help would-be moms find an egg donor who looks like them

For would-be parents who are unable to have children without medical assistance, one possible option is to use an egg donor. This method involves a donor anonymously giving her eggs to an infertile patient to help them give birth. But after undergoing the (sometimes tough) decision to have fertility treatment, hopeful-moms-to-be are faced with a second question: “Will my kid look like me?” Ovobank, a pioneering egg bank in Spain, has a high-tech answer to the conundrum — and it involves using facial recognition to match up patients to similar-looking donors.

“In Spain, where both [in vitro fertilizaation 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.”

Until now, this process was achieved by looking at the patient’s phenotypical characteristics — referring to their height, hair color, eye color, and skin color. The facial matching part was then a subjective decision made based on the doctor’s choices. What Ovomatch offers instead is a facial-recognition matching algorithm, which allows the patient to find their idea donor by snapping a quick selfie through a mobile app.

“[Our app asks] the patient to take a selfie and [then] scans over 100 facial points, which it will then compare to the donors that already match that patient phenotypically,” Scholz said. “Ovomatch will then come up with the number of donors that not only match the patient’s phenotypic characteristics, but also have a close resemblance to her.”

After this process is carried out, the app sends out two reports: One to the collaborating IVF center so they can begin to program the treatment, and the other to Ovobank so that it can prepare the necessary paperwork related to the egg donation. Finally, Ovobank will get in contact with the collaboration center, and arrange shipment of the eggs.

“This service is already being rolled out internationally,” Scholz said. “It is available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.”

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