We Are Egg Donors has been a long-time partner with Dr. Diane Tober, a medical anthropologist at UCSF who is researching egg donation in the United States and Spain. Our co-founder, Raquel Cool, recently sat down with her to interview her about her work.
One of the reasons why we formed We Are Egg Donors is to bridge conversations between egg donors and academics (of course, these groups are not mutually exclusive: some egg donors are also academics). We are thrilled and honored to interview Dr. Daisy Deomampo, who is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Fordham University. She is also a medical anthropologist who is conducting a study on US-based egg donors and women considering egg donation.
A big thank you to Suraiya Jetha, doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who collaborated with us on this interview. (Fun fact: Suraiya briefly interned at WAED when our organization first formed. We doesn't always have interns, but when we do, they are wildly overqualified for the task.)
If you're an egg donor who would like to participate in this study, or ask questions about it, please contact Dr. Deomampo directly via email at email@example.com. Her study is open to current egg donors, former egg donors, and people considering becoming egg donors in the United States, especially those who identify as Asian, Asian American, or of a mixed race Asian background.
Through the process, doing this in ‘secret’ mode was becoming too much. “Are you sure, you really sure you want to do this?” I asked myself over and over again. I had a meltdown or something. I told the clinic I was unsure, I talked to them about the possibility of quitting: They told me that quitting is no longer possible. The doctors told me that at that point, I couldn’t quit, because "they already had a recipient synced up with me". They told me that I couldn’t quit.
“Many agencies and clinics emphasize how safe egg donation is -- that the risks are ‘less than 1%’ -- but there is really no evidence to support that claim because there has been virtually no research on egg donors’ short-term or long-term health outcomes,” says medical anthropologist, Dr. Diane Tober, from the University of California, San Francisco, has been conducting research with egg donors since 2013. To date, she has interviewed over 90 current and former egg donors, and collected 180 online surveys. Her initial findings indicate that far more than 1% of egg donors experience complications--some quite serious.
We invited six egg donors around the world - in the United States, Canada, and Australia - to watch the clip and respond. Responses were mixed, which is perhaps a reflection of the distinct personal experiences egg donors have across the world. The laws are so different, and vary by country. In Canada, paying egg donors is supposed to be prohibited, but still happens anyway; it's framed by brokers as a "wink-wink expense reimbursement." (i.e. "Hey, here's five grand, no receipts needed. Our co-founder, Claire, was paid $4,000 cash in a paper bag.) Australian egg donors are often known and donate altruistically, without payment. They are also encouraged to finish their own families before choosing to donate.
Rae is a 26-year-old scientist working on a Department of Defense Project. Very soon, she will complete her third egg donation cycle. When Rae tried to access her egg donor medical records, she thought she'd be protected by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).
The roadblocks she hit were unexpected: the egg bank did not want to disclose her records. So she consulted with an attorney who discovered something very interesting: egg donors might not be protected as patients under HIPAA, which has a tricky grey area to consider.
Christine had never met another egg donor before, so she and her partner, professional photographer Mathew Bell, decided to document her experience through photographs. We invited Christine* (name changed) to share her story.
A big thank you to We Are Egg Donors for educating me on the egg donation process and introducing me to some of the most incredible women. Without WAED, I likely would have given up on egg donation long ago and would not have found out about my condition until it was too late. After assessing the risks, I know egg donation is right choice for me, and WAED has played a huge role in helping me come to that conclusion.
“Females… Get paid for selling your healthy eggs!”
It got me thinking about all the egg donor ads I’ve seen over the years. You’ve probably seen them, too: They are flyers splashed about American college campuses; they’re peppered throughout the “Etc” jobs section of Craiglist; they’re all over the #EggDonation Instagram hashtag. These recruitment advertisements tend to promise the same thing: thousands and thousands of dollars.
But are egg donor ads accurate? This article investigates. We invited Hillary Alberta-Sherer, a PhD candidate at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy, to take a close look at some egg donor ads from a feminist perspective.
Recently, we published this story about how things went south after a member donated her eggs to her aunt. Shortly after, this email popped into my inbox:
Hi, I just read the heartbreaking story posted on We Are Egg Donors about a woman donating eggs to her aunt and having it go so horribly! I really think that is awful.
I also donated to my aunt (my mother’s first cousin, to be technical). My experience was very different and has been very positive. If you have any interest in sharing another perspective on a similar situation, I’d be happy to share.
We are honored to share Carter’s story here.
Once she realized she couldn’t change my mind, her cheery, friendly demeanor quickly fell. She told me I would now be responsible for paying for all of the screenings, exams, etc. and would call me back with a number. Within minutes, she called me back requesting $3400 in ten days! Ok firstly, if I had an extra $3400 laying around I wouldn’t be trying to donate in the first place.
Recently, an Ivy League egg donor and We are Egg Donors member attended one of the much-buzzed-about egg freezing “parties” held by EggBanxx at the Harvard Club of New York City. (And by “parties,” I mean a loosely factual marketing event about commercial egg freezing — complete with free booze.) Here’s her trip report. This is the first installment of our Egg Freezing series.
When my body was pumped full of hormones to stimulate my ovarian follicles — matured for the purpose of giving another woman a chance to be a mother — part of me changed as well. For the first time in my life, I had a desire to be pregnant. I started to think about carrying a child and being a mother in a very different way. Dialogue began between my wife and I and our plans for future parenthood took a different path.
Recently, I made what some would call a “bold choice” by trying to find the families who received my donated eggs. I wrote an article titled “To the Parents Raising My Eggs,” which was meant to reach out to those families and hopefully encourage them to contact me.