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‘I signed up to donate my eggs—here’s what it was like’
A lot happens before you’re even picked to donate.
This past summer, I saw an ad on the train for a nearby hospital, specifically for egg donation at their reproductive medicine unit. I had considered donating in the past, but never gave it serious thought.
Around the same time I saw that ad, I was also reading a book in which a couple is struggling to conceive, so they look into finding an egg donor. I started to think about one of my own friends who has had health issues that might make pregnancy more difficult for her in the future, and how sad I would be for her if she weren’t able to have kids someday. As a pretty healthy 25-year-old woman, I figured I would be a good candidate for donation.
As I considered it more seriously, I started to tell a couple people close to me. I told my boyfriend about it soon after I saw that ad on the train, and he was really supportive, saying that it was my body, and I should do what I wanted. I told my mom a couple weeks later, and she was also very encouraging. That’s when I started to do some real research about it.
In a quick Google search, I found the same hospital from the ad. After reading about the process and their program, I decided this was something I definitely wanted to do—the hospital would work around my schedule to make things easy, the process of egg donation was really fascinating to me, I’d be paid well ($8,000 before taxes), and egg donation helps so many women. I applied right away.
The preliminary application was short and asked for basic information, like my general health (how active I am, if I’m taking any meds, height and weight, etc.), what I did for a living, and why I want to do this. I heard back about a week later that my preliminary app was accepted, and that I needed to fill out a much more extensive application. That one took me over a week to complete. It asked so many questions about my health and my family’s health history that it took a 45-minute phone call with my parents to ask them about my extended family. I also had to answer some pretty reflective questions about myself—what’s my favorite thing about myself, what would I like to improve, what are my short- and long-term goals, and more about why am I doing this. It was pretty intense, but I learned through this process that they want to make sure that donors—not just the potential parents—are making the best decision for them.
Once my second application was accepted, I went to a full-day orientation. First, they walked us through the whole process—the science behind how egg donation works, the logistics of donating, and the steps or aspects that are unique to their program. This part of orientation is where I learned the
most. For example, I learned that the hospital won’t inform me if my donation leads to a birth, so a child could be born from my eggs without me ever knowing. They also touched on something else I hadn’t thought about previously: Once my eggs are extracted, they are no longer my property. The potential parents can freeze them or use them right away, or even sell them to an egg bank (if, say, they use a few eggs but don’t need the rest).
Then, I underwent several health tests—a psych evaluation, blood testing, a physical, an ultrasound, a pap smear, HIV testing, STD testing, and DNA sequencing. The psych eval was the worst part. First of all, I have never spoken to a counselor or psychologist, so the minute I stepped in there, I felt vulnerable. The session started off pretty intense with her asking about some very personal topics, and then she asked me about a lot of hypotheticals. For instance, if there’s a problem at the birth that doctors didn’t find in my DNA sequencing, they might need to contact me to come back in for further testing to find out whether it came from me or the father. She also asked how I would feel in the future if a child was born and tracked me down through a private investigator. I couldn’t predict 100 percent how I would feel, but told her that I knew those were risks. Looking back, I understand why the psychologist was as intense as she was and why she asked about those scenarios because, like I mentioned, they have to assess how you’ll handle everything. (That said, I’m glad that part is over with.)
A few weeks after orientation, a genetics counselor called to talk about the results of the DNA sequencing. (They checked for over 300 genetic diseases to determine if I had a carrier gene for any.) And then I was also told to come back in during my next period for a couple more tests to check my hormone levels.
After that point, I was done. I’m now waiting for potential parents to choose me. Once I’m chosen, I’ll go on birth control to match up my cycle with the mother’s, and after that, I’ll start giving myself daily shots for three weeks to ramp up my hormone levels. (At this point, I’ll be very fertile, which is why they advise you not to have sex at this time.) Then, they’ll extract my eggs.
Overall, I learned a lot throughout this whole process, and how it can mean so much to potential parents. The money, the time, and the effort that they put in to have a child—somebody who’s willing to commit all of that really wants a child. And I hope to be the person that gives them that.
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