My cousin recently informed me that she’s going to donate her eggs to an infertile couple that she barely knows (they advertised in a college newspaper). Always the cynic, I told her that she had no idea what she was in store for her. Well, technically, neither do I. Has anyone heard any horror stories I can relay, or, okay, fine, positive stories involving egg donation? Are there physical risks to the donor’s health? The one concern she expressed was that she’d get fat (hey, I think that says it all).
I don’t believe there are any serious health risks, but prior to donating the donor must receive a long series of hormone injections. I have heard that the donating procedure itself is also extremely painful, although they do give you anesthesia for it.
I wonder if she has considered the moral angles. In vitro fertilization (IVF) requires that many eggs be fertilized, then only a few of the resulting embryos (blastocysts?) are implanted, and the rest are destroyed once pregnancy occurs. Depending on your view of when life starts, this could be problematic.
Not necessarily. The unused embryos (I believe I’ve heard them referred to as zygotes) can be donated to another infertile couple, or can be frozen for later use.
One other thing she should consider is the psychological aspects: can she deal with the fact that this unknown child is technically going to be her son or daughter?
I did several cycles of Fertinex when going through infertility treatment. Looked into (vaguely) IVF, so have some knowledge.
AFAIK, no long term studies have been done on the effects of fertility drugs. I suspect I may have upped my chances of ovarian cancer, but hey.
The hormone shots themselves are not very painful, but they made me (and I didn’t do the super ones for IVF) behave like I had Super-PMS. And, for some reason, you do tend to get a little crampy while your overies pump out 20 or so eggs.
The surgery is apparently very low risk - but it is surgery and all surgery carries some risks.
There are some people (including myself) who believe these children will eventually be like many adult adoptees today - interested in knowing (or at least knowing about) the person who gave them their biological start. She may need to think through what might happen in 20 years when “her child” shows up on her doorstep. Or sooner - if the couple looks her up in six years because the child begins to ask questions.
On the other hand, she will be doing some couple whose eggs are not viable a great service (and quite possibly make some cash).
Yeah–not to undercut the humanitarian worth of her noble sacrifice, but companies buy eggs from donors for upwards of $5000 per procedure.
Since others have addressed the medical concerns, I’ll tackle the legal/emotional ones.
Your cousin definitely wants to make sure that she knows exactly what will happen to all of the eggs taken from her. If not all of them are used, will they be stored? Destroyed? Is there any way they could be made available to other couples? Used for research?
It would probably also be worthwhile for her to state her wishes in the event that something happens to her (i.e. would she want someone to be able to bear “her” child if she is no longer around?) What if she later finds herself unable to have children or if her own (internal) eggs are destroyed? Will she have access to any unused eggs?
Finally, she should have some kind of agreement in place regarding the child’s access to her and her personal information.
Of course, some of these scenarios are farfetched (most have been explored in various episodes of Law & Order), but it’s probably worth having the various possibilities spelled out in advance. Egg donation is generous, but it also raises all sorts of potentially thorny problems.