Sunday, December 28, 2008

Egg Donors and the Economy

CNN recently ran a piece on egg donors and the economy, Egg Donors on the Rise, as did the Wall Street Journal, Ova Time: Women Line Up To Donate Eggs — for Money and I want to make it perfectly clear that while there is an increase in women applying to become donors, there is not an increase in Extraordinary Conceptions' donors donating their eggs. In fact, most women who apply to become a donor do NOT ever become one. While both those pieces were accurate, they left out a very important part of becoming a donor and that is the rigorous screening process.

A donor in Extraordinary Conceptions' program first must complete a detailed, lengthy application. Most donors never finish it. After their application is complete, their background is checked. If the young woman passes this step, they next meet with the donor program staff who reviews the process with them (self-injecting hormones for 2 to 5 weeks and a medical procedure) and the restrictions placed on them: no smoking, drinking, recreational drugs, and sex. At this point, women who are not serious about the process drop out of the program.

They next must complete an additional detailed medical questionnaire. Remember, these are young women who are either attending school or working or both. These women are busy so only the women who are serious about the process complete this step.

After the donor is is selected by a recipient, they meet with that person’s IVF physician wherever he or she is located, having their blood drawn for the required FDA screening, undergoing a vaginal ultrasound and meeting with the doctor who explains in detail the procedure and the risks involved. Again, the physician wants to make sure that the young woman understands what is required of her.

The donor undergoes another background check as well as a psychological screening. The psychologist wants to make sure that the donor is not emotionally attached to her eggs and has no history of drug or alcohol abuse in her family and that she is stable and well-adjusted.

Some programs do not require this, but Extraordinary Conceptions' program donors meet with an attorney who reviews the legal contract with them, explaining their rights, responsibilities and duties under the contract. The contract makes very clear that the donor does not and will not have any parental rights to any child conceived as a result of the egg donation procedure.

After all these steps are completed, the donor can now wait to start the egg donation process! She checks her calendar for the day she must state her injectable medication and when her medical appointments will be. During this time, she needs to take multiple injectable medications and attend doctor visits where she will have her blood drawn and have a vaginal ultrasound. And, not all donors will get to the egg retrieval day, since some donors do not respond well to the medication and their cycles must be cancelled.

So, if all goes well, the donor will have her eggs retrieved and receive the majority of her fee. As you can see, this is a lengthy and detailed process. It is not like these women can drive to the clinic, drop off a few “ova” and walk away with a check in hand. It takes commitment, patience, and hard work.

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