The Hidden Risks of Egg Donation
The risk of egg donation is both physical and emotional. Based on my own experience, the hidden risks of egg donation are more toward to emotional. When I was in college, one of my classmates, Linda, asked the female classmates if any of us had ever donated our eggs because her friends had asked her for help. Linda was young, beautiful, healthy and smart with a friendly personality. She was a perfect candidate for donating eggs. But she concerned about whether donating eggs would risk the chance for her to have her own baby in the future. I had never heard of egg donation before, nor did my other classmates. That was when I learned people who can't conceive their own babies can get pregnant with the help of egg donors.
An Egg Donor Story
Five years later, I was approached by a dear friend of mine, Sandy, for the same reason - be her egg donor. Sandy was in her late 30's and had been checking on many Asian egg donors for about two years but couldn't find the right one. My second baby was about 2 months old at that time. My husband and I were not planning to have another baby anytime soon. Since Sandy had been very kind and helpful to my family, we wanted to help her to fulfill her dream of motherhood. So I agreed to be her egg donor for free and began the standard process for an egg donor.
Physical Risk of Egg Donation
Needles, I am terrified of needles. Every time when my doctor handed me the lab paper for blood test during my two pregnancies, my stomach clenched. I would turn my head and shut my eyes tight when the lab worker held up the needle. The big needles for the anesthesia during labors horrified me. So I was almost freaked out when Sandy's doctor told me that I needed to take a needle each day for injecting the ovarian stimulating medications into my body for about a month. My eyes popped when I was given a pack of birth control pills which made me so dizzy throughout the day that I was hardly able to function properly. The presumably painless shots by the doctor turned out to be a big "ouch" the first week. I experienced the bloating and cramping that were worst than my normal menstrual cramps. My body felt like an 80-year-old. I didn't complain about any of these difficulties to Sandy and kept look forward to the end of this process. On the day of the egg retrieval, I ignored the pain and was happy to know that there were eight eggs and the egg donating process had finally come to an end. But the next few days, beside bleeding, bloating and feeling fragile, I felt the pain in the wound that I had after my C-section for my second baby. Luckily, I was nearly back to normal after about three weeks, not a couple days that Sandy's doctor had told me. I sometimes wonder if I was really a qualified egg donor as Sandy's doctor described at the beginning of the process. I was 32, two months after an emergency C-section for my baby and breastfeeding. Why did the doctor say that I was qualified to be an egg donor?
Emotional Risk of Egg Donation
To me, the emotional risk of being an egg donor is more than the physical risk. From the time Sandy told me the good news that she was pregnant I started to wonder how good a mother she would be. Would she use spanking which I strongly oppose as a way of discipline that most of Chinese employ? How would I feel or what should I do if Sandy mistreated the baby in front of me? I remember at the beginning of the egg donation process I had to answer a list of questions asked by a psychologist. I felt fine and believed that I wouldn't have any emotional attachment to the baby. It was just the eggs that I would donate and those eggs would eventually discharge from my body anyway. I really wanted to help Sandy out and I felt proud to be able to do so. I now started to feel more and more stressed and uncertain if I had done the right thing. I started avoiding the contact with Sandy and forced myself not to think about what might happen. But it was hard. Each time when my little toddler misbehaved or my baby cried and kept me up all night, I would think about how would Sandy handle these situations. I admitted that I was becoming paranoid. The pain from the egg donation process was long gone, but my emotional stress seemed to increase each day.
The End Result
Sandy called me about four months later and told me that she had a miscarriage and asked if I could help her again. I was shock and felt terribly sad for her. But I knew I couldn't do it again. I knew better than the doctor that although I might survive the physical risk, I might be forever be haunted by the emotional risk. It has been more than ten years now, Sandy has moved her focus on to running a business instead of having a family. Whenever she sees her friends frustrated over raising rebellious teenagers or worry about college fund, Sandy would smile and be glad that she doesn't have to deal with all those issues. As for me, I gave birth to my third baby after about three years of donating my eggs to Sandy and my overall health is fine so far.