people who have experienced interesting, amazing, challenging things.
This is the story of ‘Annie’ and her experience donating her eggs.
Hello! I’m 26 years old living in Nashville, Tennessee. I spend most of my days in a stained glass studio or sketching in a notebook, and many-a-night you can find me hanging out with elderly dementia sufferers in their living rooms (it’s official business, I swear).Why did you decide to become an egg donor?
Honestly, I didn’t (and still don’t) see a reason why anyone would not want to become a donor. You are doing something great for someone else (that requires very little effort) and being very fairly compensated for it.
What is the process like to become a donor?
The actual process of becoming a donor the first time is the biggest hurdle. You have to submit pictures, fill out forms detailing your family health, education and work history, complete questionnaires that ask questions like “Do you sleep with stuffed animals?” and “Do you believe in miracles?” If you have a relatively healthy family you will then be put in the database. The database works kind of like MySpace. Potential recipients will search through all of these donor profiles (your name is omitted, as it is anonymous) and select one. There are some brief phone calls with lawyers, genetic counselors, and a psych evaluation. You never have direct contact with the recipient, and the agency acts a sort of middle-man helping to arrange appointments and travel. Then the real fun begins!
Once you begin your “cycle”, you will have to endure an almost daily vaginal probe ultrasound and your blood being drawn for about a week and a half. It takes less than an hour, and doesn’t much bother me personally. At some point you will have to give yourself injectable medication. Every doctor has a different method but they all include sticking yourself with needles every night. I thought I had a problem with shots and needles before I started this (in fact, I always cry after shots from the stress), but it’s been a breeze.
When the doctors give you the O.K. there is a final shot that you take to prepare your eggs for the retrieval. They take a long needle and go in through the vaginal wall. The procedure takes less than 20 minutes and I was discharged almost immediately. I personally had some ill effects from the anesthesia (severe nausea and trapped gas in my chest), but the procedure itself was painless.
What are the drawbacks of being a donor?
There’s no drinking or smoking or heavy lifting or sex for the 10 (or so) days that you are on stimulation medication. It’s particularly annoying because when your body is THIS fertile, it wants to procreate. You will catch yourself flirting mercilessly with just about anyone near the end of your cycle.
After a few weeks you can check online to see if your donation resulted in a pregnancy. It’s a wonderful feeling. The day you leave the hospital you also leave with several thousand ($3,000 – $8,000) more than you came in with. Both of my cycles have been in different states and so I have also enjoyed the free travel and accommodations.
Do you know anything about the families who will get your eggs?
Yes. The first couple were a pair of straight John Waters’s fans. This time I am donating to a single gay man. He also has a surrogate lined up (a surrogate can’t use her egg – that’s called “selling your baby to some guy” and it’s a legal and emotional liability). I know more about him than the first couple, because he wrote me a letter – anonymously, of course, thanking me and telling me about himself.
How do the people in your life feel about you being an egg donor?
I think my parents see it as a good opportunity, and my friends (especially men) say they are jealous. Everybody sees the dollar signs, but it really is rewarding on another level.
Have you ever had any second thoughts?
Yes, once. I panicked the first time that I realized these kids would be contacting me someday, probably when they were 18. The panic didn’t last long as I quickly did the math and realized that I’d be well into my 40’s by then and hopefully mature enough to handle the situation. It’s a hard situation to imagine. A child with a loving family that was made possible through the genetic donation of another person – sounds like a pretty great beginning to me.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a donor?
Think for yourself, make sure you have support, but don’t pass on this experience because other people think it’s “weird.” Take it seriously and be responsible, someone somewhere is spending upwards of $20,000 on a 50% chance that if this goes perfectly it will end in a baby for them. Don’t quit your day job.
Thanks so much for sharing, Annie! If any of you have long, involved questions for Annie or would like to contact her directly, you can email me at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org and I’ll pass along her info.
Have any of you ever donated eggs? Would you?
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