I just completed my second egg donation cycle this afternoon. Some people may not agree with what I am doing by donating my DNA, but I am doing it for someone that can’t produce on their own. Sure, there is a monetary compensation for the procedure, but that’s not why I do it. Don’t get me wrong, the money definitely attracted me in the beginning, but after someone out in the world actually chooses and decides they want your genes and DNA to create a life that they can’t, it becomes so much more. It has been a very rewarding experience for me.
Every time I tell someone that I am donating my eggs, they are initially a bit shocked. Then they congratulate me and ask about the procedure. I am writing this to inform those that are interested in donating in the future or are just interested in what I am doing. For those of you that are interested, I suggest doing your own research, not just taking my word for it, but here is my story and how I went about donating and everything that went along with it.
I reached my decision to donate after speaking with a good friend of mine who has also done it a few times. I was initially criticizing the whole things because the whole Nadya Suleman issue, better known as “Octomom,” was is full swing. After speaking with my friend, however, I learned more about the process and how the Octomom issue was different from this, in that she was already able to conceive on her own.
After doing some research on the donation process, I looked into a bunch of different donation agencies. I found one that is very well known, not only throughout the United States, but internationally as well. It’s called the Donor Source (www.thedonorsource.com). I contacted them and they sent me a packet with more information. I set up a consultation to learn more about them and the procedure. I chose to go through them because of their good, professional reputation. After the orientation, I set up an online profile which included family history, photos, my education, and personal background. All that was left was to wait for a couple looking for someone like to me to come along and pick me over all of the other thousands of girls.
It took about six months before I heard anything. When I did though, I was extremely excited. In my profile, I said that I was available to travel for the donation. I was very happy to hear that this cycle was going to take place in New York City. One of the best parts of that, not only do they pay for your travel and expenses, but you also have to take someone with you, and they pay their way too. I was getting paid to go on vacation to the Big Apple for a week! As soon as I agreed, they sent out the paperwork for me to fill out. I then had to go through a medical evaluation in which they tested me for everything under the sun. Lots of bloodwork. Luckily, I don’t mind needles. Especially now, after my second cycle. After passing the medical evaluation, I then had to meet with a psychologist for a psychological evaluation. I had to fill out a long questionnaire on my feelings and whatnot. It wasn’t too bad. The last step before starting my medications was to consult with an attorney and go over the legal agreement I have with the intended parent(s). Each agreement is different, and the IPs will typically hire their own outside attorney rather than the one the Donor Source provides them with. My attorney was the same guy for both cycles and is paid for by the IPs. The consultation typically lasts about an hour over the phone. Next came the fun part.
After passing all of my evaluations, the fertility clinic in New York sent over all of my medications and injections. Yes, I said injections. I had to self-administer shots into my abdomen. Trust me, it sounds so much worse than it actually is. This is the part where people cringe when I tell them that I am donating. A lot of the girls I have spoken with are interested in doing it too, until I tell them about this part. They don’t think they can inject themselves with a needle. I was a bit nervous when I first heard about it too, but it really is not bad at all. Before all of that though, I had to take prenatal vitamins and birth control, which wasn’t a big deal since I was already on the pill. For this most recent cycle, which was local and took place in San Diego, they put me on Doxycycline, an antibiotic to treat any infections I may have had as a precaution. Luckily I didn’t have any infections, but they still made me take it. It was not fun. It made me very nauseous and I got sunburned very easily. It was awful.
About ten days later, I was off the antibiotics and the birth control and started my first set of injections. Once you start these medications, you’re not supposed to drink, smoke, have sex, or exercise too hard. So basically, you’re pumping hormones into your body and don’t have much of any stress relievers. My suggestion, just sit back, relax, and hang out by the pool with a good book. I didn’t get too hormonal from these first set of injections. After a few monitoring appointments where they checked my blood and did an ultrasound to see how active my follicles were, they put me on the second set of injections. At this point I was injecting myself twice per day with medications. I got a bit more hormonal after starting this second round. Or so I was told by my friends and family. 😉
A few days later, they told me I was ready for my egg retrieval. During my first cycle, my companion I took to New York with me, my mom, had to give me my “trigger” shot for the final stimulation of my follicles. This was a intramuscular shot she had to jab in my butt cheek 24 hours before my scheduled retrieval. This second cycle, it was a self-administered shot in my abdomen, just like all the others I had been doing, 36 hours before my retrieval.
I arrived at the clinic on the day of my retrieval, signed a few papers and was taken to the back. I robed up and they sat me down in a massaging recliner and covered me with a heated blanket. I felt like I was getting the star treatment. It was pretty awesome. The anesthesiologist came in and stuck me with my IV. It was kind of painful since she did it in my wrist and couldn’t find the vein at first. She had to poke around, remove it, and then re-stick me. Not fun. Then they took me back into the operating room, put me up in the stirrups and started the anesthesia.
About 30 minutes later, I woke up in recovery not even realizing it was all over. I was pretty crampy, so they gave me some pain killer medications via my IV and a heat pack for my stomach. I felt okay after that. I was in recovery for about 30 to 45 minutes or so. My mom took me home, got me some food, and here I lay in bed writing this with my heating pad. Still crampy, but they gave me some pain killers just in case.
I am very happy with my decision to help people that want to have children that can’t do it on their own. And although I am sure I will probably change my mind later in life, right now, I am not so sure that I want to have kids. In that case, I feel like I am doing something good by giving someone the opportunity to create a life. I’m very fertile, so to share something like this with someone who isn’t, makes me feel like I am doing a good thing for someone.
Another question people ask me is about the risks associated with this procedure. I get those questions all the time. So I am going to take a minute and go over what I’ve found. The most common risk is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. It occurs in one to five percent of cycles. This is when one or both of the ovaries become enlarged and retain fluid. This happened to me after my first cycle. It was not fun. It was an awful pain in my abdomen. I contacted my doctor as soon as it occurred. They told me to go to my local clinic immediately to see check on it. Everything ended up okay. They just gave me some strong ibuprofen and Gatorade. The pain went away the next day. In severe cases however, it can result in blood clots, kidney damage, ovarian twisting, and chest and abdominal fluid collections. Hospitalization, close monitoring, and a possible surgical procedure is required in some cases like this. Ovarian Twisting (Adnexal Torsion) occurs less than one percent of the time, in which the stimulated ovary will twist upon itself, cutting off its own blood circulation. If this occurs, surgery is required to untwist or possibly remove the ovary. Ovarian Cancer is another big risk people are concerned about and whether or not the ovulation drugs (the injections) can cause infertility. There are controversial studies existing on whether or not the drugs are a cause of future ovarian cancer. In one study done by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, they found no link between the use of ovulation drugs and and ovarian cancer. This study, and others, have shown there is a relationship between infertility and ovarian cancer though, which is why this is such a major concern for women.
Even with all of the associated risks, I am not too worried and would still do it again. It’s an amazing feeling giving someone such an amazing gift. If you want any more information on donating, just ask.