Inside ‘The Cost of Life’: An Egg Donor's Investigative Report on the Egg Donation Industry
WE ARE EGG DONORS had the chance to interview her on this exciting project.
WE ARE EGG DONORS: Tell me about this project.
JUSTINE: I decided to donate my eggs for the first time last year. Once I was matched with a set of parents, I told my employer, whose staff encouraged me to write about the experience.
At first, I thought my experience would make for a lighthearted Sunday feature story, but as the donation process dragged on, the story changed into something very different.
WAED: Why did you choose to write about your own egg donation experience?
JUSTINE: I always planned to write about it, at least for myself. The procedure may be minor but the implications of what we do, and what we help create as donors is huge. I wanted to document this experience for myself and my future family. It was important to me to try to help someone else have children, if I could. Being a journalist, I had the outlet to publish something at my fingertips. I’m thankful that my editors were supportive and behind me every step of the way.
WAED: How has We are Egg Donors helped you?
JUSTINE: I found the site while researching the topic for my article and was invited to the Facebook group. I was overwhelmed by the support I found there from other donors – those that had, were about to, or were experienced in donating eggs. When I was nervous about my own issues I had a sounding board, a place where other women helped talk it out and offer advice. I wish I had found it sooner. I couldn’t find anything else quite like the group from WAED anywhere else on the Internet. There’s not a lot of support out there for the egg donor community.
WAED: What are some of the main issues you’ve found in the industry?
JUSTINE: It scares me how little this industry is regulated. No one is looking out for the young women who find ads for clinics or agencies on Facebook, Craigslist or in their university newspaper. There are few resources online that provide factual, unbiased answers and information about the process and the risks.
I’ve heard horror stories of doctors treating donors more like commodities rather than patients, and their health suffers from that. Agencies too, that bully donors during what I found to be a very sensitive and emotional part of my life.
More studies need to done specifically about the effects – both medically and emotionally – on egg donors.
WAED: What are some tips you have for women considering egg donation?
JUSTINE: My advice is to ask questions. Call doctors – a lot of them – and get as many opinions as you can before making a decision. In my case, issues of anonymous versus known donations and the regimen of drugs I was to take didn’t come up until I had signed my contract, and I felt bullied into doing things I probably wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been contractually obligated.
Women considering egg donation need to know, 100 percent, that this is something they want to do. It’s not a decision to take lightly and it isn’t for everyone. Ask yourself, “would I do this if I wasn’t getting paid?”
WAED: What are some things egg donors should look out for? Specific questions to ask?
JUSTINE: Donors should browse agencies and clinics and pick one based on their reputation and results, not just on proximity to where they live. It can be hard to find information on doctors or agency reviews, but bad reviews are out there. Search on sites like Yelp.com and Youtube.com, and be familiar with donor resource sites like WAED and even the Donor Sibling Registry.
WAED: Would you donate again?
JUSTINE: I’ve considered it, but ultimately decided against it.
WAED: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JUSTINE: This was a great learning experience for me and I’ll never regret my decision to donate eggs. But I’m happy it led to the story I wrote.
If one donor reads this story and is able to make a more educated decision on whether or not they want to donate because of it, then I feel like I’ve done my job.
Photos: Elaine Litherland for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune