Signing Your Egg Donation Contract? Read This First

Hello my lovely We are Egg Donors ladies!

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Gina-Marie Mariano Madow and I am an attorney at Circle Surrogacy/Circle Egg Donation.

I am also a four-time egg donor. This is me:

I have compiled a list of things that you may want to consider when reviewing your egg donor agreement. This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. Depending on the specific terms of your agreement there may be other things you may want to consider. There is no substitute for having your own legal representation!

First and foremost, you should read the agreement in its entirety, every single word.Equally as important as reading the agreement, you should also have independent representation (i.e. your own attorney, separate from the Intended Parents’ attorney) and your attorney should review the agreement with you. During this review, you should have an opportunity to ask your attorney questions about the terms of the agreement so that you fully understand your rights and responsibilities.

Please note – this blog post does NOT serve as legal advice or representation. These are just some things you may want to consider, from one egg donor to another.

1. Unused eggs/embryos: Where will my eggs go?

Most agreements give the intended parents (“IPs”) control of all eggs retrieved and resultant embryos, permitting the IP’s to use them as they wish, whether for use themselves, for research, donation, or disposal. As the egg donor, you should understand and be comfortable with this arrangement. This means that the IP’s can use the eggs/embryos to have as many children as they want, they may donate them to a third party to have a child, they may donate them to medical researchers, or they may throw them away.

If, however, you are not comfortable with the IP’s donating any unused eggs/embryos to a third party to have a child or for medical research (for example) you may want to consider bringing this up to your attorney.

You could request that the IP’s not donate the eggs/embryos to medical researchers or to a third party to have a child without your prior written consent.

2. Complications Insurance: What if I get sick?

Typically the intended parents purchase medical insurance to cover the egg donor for any complications that may arise from the cycle medications and retrieval, such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. You may want to consider asking who covers the cost of the policy, who puts the policy in place and at what time? Other questions to consider are: is there a limit on how much the policy covers? Are there any exclusions for coverage? Ask to see a copy of the insurance policy.

3. Fee/Reimbursement for Expenses: How will I be compensated?

Typically an egg donor receives a fee for completing the retrieval. The agreement should clearly state the amount of your fee. You may want to consider asking the following questions:

⧫ Is your fee held in escrow (meaning that the intended parents deposit the money to a third party before the cycle for disbursement after retrieval)? If so, who is the escrow agent? If not, who holds your fee?

⧫ When is your fee due to you? Immediately post retrieval? Within 5-10 days post retrieval?

⧫ Is your fee inclusive of any lost wages or are lost wages to be reimbursed separately? Is your fee intended to cover the cost of transportation to and from the clinic for monitoring appointments, or will you be reimbursed separately for any parking fees or transit fares?

⧫ What is your fee for? i.e. your time, effort, pain, suffering, discomfort etc. and NOT for genetic material/relinquishment of parental rights. Some American donors have found the wording of the contract to be important when contesting taxes with the IRS.

⧫ If you need to be reimbursed for something, what supporting documentation do you need? Who do you provide this information to? When do you need to provide it? Is there a deadline for submitting expenses?

4. Travel: What if I am donating far from home?

Typically if an egg donor needs to travel for the cycle, the IP’s cover these costs. You may want to consider asking the following questions:

If you have to travel, who pays those costs? Are those separate costs or are those costs included in your fee?

Who handles the payment and when? Are you entitled to bring a companion with you when you travel? If so, do the IP’s cover this cost?

5. Timeline: When will everything happen?

Typically the egg donor agreement will outline a reasonable time for the egg retrieval. If there are any dates where you are unavailable for the retrieval or any appointments you may want to bring this up during your review of the agreement and consider asking if you can include these dates as “black-out dates” when you are unavailable. You may want to consider asking the following questions:  When are the expected cycle dates? Is there a deadline that the retrieval must occur by? Is there a provision for a second cycle? (Note – if there is a provision for a second cycle,  you will still need to have a separate agreement with the IPs for that donation).

6. IVF Clinic: Where am I cycling?

Typically the egg donor agreement will identify the IVF clinic and IVF physician. If this is not listed in the egg donor agreement, you may want to consider asking what clinic the IP’s are working with. You may also want to consider requesting a conversation with the IVF physician (or other medical professional at the clinic) to answer any of your medical questions.

7. Cancelled Cycle: What happens if the cycle is ended prematurely?

Most egg donor agreements provide the egg donor with a fee for a cancelled cycle. The amount for a cancelled cycle varies and typically depends on how long the donor has been on injectable medications for the cycle. You may want to consider asking if the doctor, the IPs, or you cancel the cycle for any reason, are you entitled to any portion of your fee?

It is common for the cancelled cycle fee to be a very small fraction of the total compensation, even if the cycle is cancelled the day before retrieval. Some donors have successfully negotiated to spread the compensation out across the cycle.

8. Confidentiality: Who can I tell?

Most egg donor agreements contain a confidentiality clause. You may want to consider askingif you can you discuss your own involvement in egg donation so long as you maintain the confidentiality of the IP’s and child by never disclosing their names, locations, or any identifying information about them.

9. Future Contact: Will I ever talk to the parent(s) or child(ren)?

Most egg donor agreements address future contact between the IPs and egg donor; this will depend largely on whether your donation is known, semi-known, or anonymous. In an anonymous donation, typically there is no contact between the IPs and egg donor now or in the future and no identifying information is disclosed. In a semi-known donation, the IPs and egg donor know each other’s first names, general area of residence, and have some limited contact, but no identifying information is disclosed. In a known donation, the IPs and egg donor disclose names and contact information and they can decide together what level of contact they are comfortable with now and in the future.

Most egg donor agreements (for known, semi-known, and anonymous donations) include a clause requiring the egg donor to provide updated medical information, especially if her health history changes. If you are obligated to give updates regarding your medical information, you should ask to whom you give this information. The agency? The clinic? The IPs attorney? The IPs directly?

You may also want to consider asking, if it is determined that a child born from the donation develops a medical condition that could be hereditary, are the IPs obligated to inform you? If so, how and through whom? Also, if you are required to provide updated contact information, who do you provide this

10. Results of the Donation: Is a child out there?

Typically with a known or semi-known donation the egg donor is informed of a pregnancy/live birth. Sometimes this information is released with an anonymous donation, but other times it is not. You may want to consider asking if you are entitled to know whether a pregnancy and live birth resulted from the donation? If so, when and who informs you of this information?

You could request a small piece of information, such as the date of birth of one Intended Parent and/or the sex of the child, if you are concerned about cosanguinity (the possibility of your own child one day meeting and partnering with your donor-conceived offspring).

You may also consider incorporating a mechanism for the donor-conceived child(ren) to contact you in the future if they so choose; the Donor Sibling Registry is a common way of leaving this option open while preserving anonymity.

Non-negotiable contracts: A word of caution

Some clinics have a non-negotiable contract and tell egg donors to “take it or leave it.”

If the idea of a non-negotiable contract makes you uncomfortable, ask your agency/clinic whether they allow for negotiation on the terms of the agreement before you are matched. If you are not satisfied with the answer, it’s okay to walk away.

It is important that you are comfortable with the terms of the agreement and there are many clinics and agencies that allow donors to negotiate the terms of the egg donor agreement.

Most importantly, all egg donors should advocate for themselves! Before agreeing to be an egg donor you should do your own research on the topic so that you feel fully informed and comfortable with what it truly means to be an egg donor. And if you don’t understand something in your egg donor agreement, ask questions!

My hope is that you can use this blog post as a starting point when reviewing your egg donor agreement. Please understand that this post is not intended to cover every question you should ask about your egg donor agreement; it is just some helpful tips from one egg donor to another.

<3 GM

The information contained in this post is intended, but is not guaranteed, to be accurate. This post does not constitute legal advice, nor is an attorney-client relationship formed by you reading the content of this post nor following links within this post. Gina-Marie Mariano Madow does not assume any liability for any loss or damage due to reliance on any content or links contained in this blog post. For legal advice on assisted reproduction technology law issues, please make an appointment to consult with a qualified assisted reproduction technology law attorney.

 Photo credit: 1s photo is by Gina Mariano