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Tales of an IVF Egg Donor

21 Jan

Matt and I have a good friend who happens to also be an egg donor. We asked if she might write a little something for New Dads, to share a bit of an egg donor’s perspective, and she very kindly obliged. Enjoy!

My name is Melodye, and I am an egg donor.  (“Hi, Melodye.”)  I also happen to be friends with Matt and Josh, and they asked if I would be interested in writing an entry from the egg donor’s point of view. Here I am, happily obliging.

My first experience donating (yep, I’ve donated more than once) stemmed from wanting to backpack through Europe. I brainstormed on how to make a decent sum of money to pay for this bucket list item, and upon discovering that donating eggs would earn me $8,000, I decided to go for it.

Although I didn’t know anyone who had done it (or anyone whose brain I could pick on the subject), I did extensive research online about the process and which service to use. NYU, Columbia and Cornell were my top choices, so I decided to apply with all three.

After having a couple appointments with Columbia, for some reason I just didn’t feel comfortable. I felt like a number there, so decided to retract my application. With NYU, I had a blood work appointment on my third visit (still during the application process—I hadn’t been matched with a recipient yet, but more on that later). There was a major storm, so I couldn’t make it. Even though I called to reschedule, they deemed me unreliable and declined my application.

Cornell was a welcome contrast to both of these experiences. From the first day I arrived, they were kind, compassionate, and made me feel that I was just as much a part of this process as the recipient.

The first step when applying is filling out extensive paperwork. This includes a full health history for myself and all family members—mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents (some of which can be very difficult to track down!).

Then there is a personality/psychological exam. There are hundreds of true/false questions to be answered. Some of the questions include: “I am troubled by attacks of nausea and vomiting,” “No one seems to understand me,” “I like mechanics magazines,” “I have a good appetite,” “I wake up fresh & rested most mornings,” “I think I would like the work of a librarian,” “I like to read newspaper articles on crime,” “My hands and feet are usually warm enough,” “I have never been in trouble because of my sex behavior,” “A minister can cure disease by praying and putting his hand on your head,” “I am liked by most people who know me.”

After 567 of these, your brain starts to swim a bit.

While they interpret the results, they take you through a series of blood tests to see if you are a carrier for certain genetic diseases. Lastly, potential donors speak with a psychiatrist about why they’re interested in being a donor. The psychiatrist also asks hypothetical questions about the future (i.e., “What would you do if the child wanted to contact you when they turned 18?”). If after all of this they deem you a suitable donor candidate, they walk you through what you can expect as a donor.

Once officially on the donor list with Cornell (and let me reiterate how wonderful it was to work with them), potential recipients can learn all about you. They never know your name or see your handwriting, nor do they see a picture (they will know your physical traits, however). If you want, you can also submit a photo of yourself as a child (totally optional; I opted “yes”).

At that point, it’s a waiting game to see who wants you. I assumed they were picking someone based on the physical and personality qualities the potential parent possessed (who was unable to genetically participate) and wanted in their offspring.

They warned that it could take weeks or months to get matched with a family. But then, by the following week, I had a match.

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