On a chilly fall day in 2009, my best friend and I were googling ways to make money.
We were full time university students with heavy courseloads, and barely making ends meet working low wage jobs and waitressing.
We’d both been donating plasma as a helpful side gig, but each plasma donation only earns about $15-20 and it HURT, badly. The phlebotomists at the donation center near the university were poorly trained, and often left us with hematomas and nausea. The more I’d been reading up on the negative health effects, the worse I felt about continuing, and I wanted to find another way I could make money, and also hopefully do something helpful.
My best friend stumbled across Egg Donation.
I had never heard of it before (it wasn’t in the news or popular with celebrities like today).
We both read up on it, applied to an agency – and were accepted into the database.
Less than a month later, I received a call from one of the co-founders, who wanted me to go to Philadelphia* (city name changed), to meet a potential IP (Intending Parent – the person who would receive the donation). He explained that this was unusual (most donations are anonymous), but it didn’t bother me and I flew out the next week.
The meeting changed my life.
Being able to hear first-hand the troubles and trauma that result from miscarriages, and getting to know such a wonderful person as the Intended Mother, inspired me to continue.
I had lost my own mother quite unexpectedly when I was 15. In addition to being an amazing woman, role model, and volunteer – she was the best mother I could ever imagine. Whenever I asked her what she had wanted to be when she grew up, she’d always say “a mom”, and it so truly showed in every single thing that she did. The importance of family, and my personal experience of the joy and love of having a truly dedicated parent, were strong inspirations for my donations. I wanted to give others, Intended Parents, the opportunity to live their dream, just like my mom had.
I went on to complete 5 donations around the world, one additional to the first that was not anonymous. For just one of the donations, I have stayed in touch with the (successful) Intended Mother, including on Facebook, who has a beautiful family that I am so happy to see and feel so to have helped her in my small way to achieve her dreams of parenthood.
After my own personal and very positive experiences with egg donation (which each resulted in compensation ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 – allowing me to graduate from college debt free and later travel – Just be aware when you do your online taxes that the IRS classifies egg donation as “other” income), I went on to work as an Intending Parent coordinator with an international medical tourism company for two years – working to match up potential Intending Parents with fertility services and donors.
Interested in learning more about egg donations? Read on..
How do I sign up for egg donation?
Depending on your chosen agency (I recommend Extraordinary Conceptions in the US and internationally), you will fill out a lengthy application process. Each agency has different requirements, but most require donors to be of sound physical and mental health, without reproductive issues, and between the ages of 21-30.
If accepted, your photos and information will be added into the database for potential parents to review. Once you “match” (when an Intended Parent chooses you), you will go in for further physical and psychological meetings, as well as talk with a lawyer about your rights and contract.
Throughout the process, you will have a coordinator to walk you through and help you with any questions. Any associated fees or costs should be paid by your agency, in addition to paying for a friend to accompany you to any out of state/ out of country appointments, as well as per diem for each of you and a very nice hotel stay – so be sure to choose a reputable agency.
Why should I be an egg donor?
It isn’t for everyone, but egg donation provides an amazing chance to help someone achieve their dreams of parenthood as well as earn compensation for yourself. In general, the compensation (which is for your time and pain – genetic material cannot legally be sold nor bought) is quite generous, and the compensation package usually includes hotel stays for egg retrieval, a “per day” cost for food, activities, and loss of work, plane tickets, and all transportation and other expenses.
For me, I felt especially motivated to help single parents and gay couples (the agencies allow you to choose what kind of couples you feel comfortable donating for) – as they are the demographic that faces the biggest difficulties when it comes to adoption, so sometimes the only option is through egg donation and surrogacy.
Egg donation is also an important consideration for women who are capable of carrying a baby to term, but who have a genetic disease or a chance to pass on a genetic disease. With an egg donor, there is no risk of passing the disease onto the baby.
What is the egg donation process? Does it hurt?
While each agency and doctor has a slightly different procedure (here’s one from a US clinic), this is a general overview.
- After you are “matched” and approved, and your contracts signed, you will go on Birth Control to regulate your cycle for a little less than a month.
- You will stop taking the pill when your doctor tells you, and then begin taking 1-2 (almost) painless injections every day for approximately 2 weeks. Yes, they are needles, but they are small (insulin-size) and injecting into your stomach fat makes them almost painless.
- The day before the egg retrieval procedure, you will take a “trigger” shot which begins the ovulation process.
- When you go in for your egg retrieval procedure, you are usually placed under general anesthesia. The procedure is called transvaginal aspiration (a needle is passed through the top of the vagina and into the ovary, where the fluid is aspirated through the needle and the eggs detach from the follicle wall and are pulled into the syringe). The procedure takes less than 15 minutes, and no cutting is involved. Most donors are up and feeling fine shortly after – some have minor cramping.
- You’ll have a follow up appointment with the doctor a day or two later to be sure you’re okay, and that you aren’t having any complications or side effects.
What are the risks?
OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome) is a possible but unlikely risk, which includes swelling and pain. Other risks can include infection, and cramping, as well as reactions to anesthesia as in any other procedure. Reporting your symptoms to your doctor and coordinator is an important step in preventing or treating OHSS if you experience it as a donor.
Double check that your agency provides health insurance for your during the donor process and afterwards, and be sure that all complications and related costs will be paid by them.
Wow thank you for sharing. I’ve thought about egg donation in the past but definitely have questions. Would you mind sharing your take on the fact that there are technically your biological children out there in the world right now? Does that weigh on your mind at all? I think I would like to do it but I’m worried about that stressing me out. Also, how often can you donate? Can you be matched back to back? Thank you for the interesting read!
Hi Lisa! You are so welcome! Glad I could be of any help 🙂
I’d be happy to share!
For me, the fact that there are children genetically related to me is not bothersome in any way- I don’t consider them “my biological children” or any relation otherwise.
It’d be easiest to compare to donating blood – the fact that my blood is helping someone else doesn’t hurt me or affect me in any negative way. I don’t have any attachment to that blood, and the only feeling I have is joy to have been able to help someone else.
I don’t have any illusion of attachment to the eggs and I honestly don’t think about it. For me, the knowledge that a good egg is “wasted” every month per the menstrual cycle makes it even easier to donate them to someone who needs them and will use them, rather than just being thrown out.
Reputable agencies screen donors very carefully, including thorough psychological screening, and potential donors that have attachments or potential attachments to their genetic material likely won’t be accepted – both for the benefit of the recipient and of the donor, so as not to cause any emotional harm or stress to the donor. Good agencies are really careful and compassionate to be sure that the donation is only helpful to everyone involved.
Also, because potential parents have to go through such extensive screening as well, I can rest assured that only good things come of the donation.
For the wait time: It varies from agency to agency but most require that you wait 6 months or 1 year.