Are you applying to be an Egg Donor? 8 Questions you – as the applicant – should ask an Egg Donor Program!
As a potential egg donor, you are expected to undertake an extremely rigorous screening process to confirm you're an appropriate candidate to join a fertility clinic's in-house program. In part, there will be a lengthy online application, in-person (or virtual) interviews with a variety of medical professionals, genetic screening, physical exams that include ultrasounds to inspect your ovaries and – lots & lots of needle pokes to keep track hormone levels – in other words, you are signing up for a big commitment.
All this testing is performed to ensure you are medically, psychologically, and genetically suitable to undertake a hormonally stimulated cycle with the goal of retrieving many, healthy oocytes for your Intended Parents. These eggs will be fertilized and develop into embryos; ones that will be transferred to an Intended Mother's, or a Gestational Surrogate's, uterus to conceive a baby.
However, it's worth noting that while clinicians are "checking you out," you should conduct due-diligence of your own to make certain you find the best program; one who will take exceptional care of you before, during – AND after your egg donor cycle!
So, while you are hearing about the steps involved in the approval process and your cycle protocol, here are some important, albeit unconventional, questions to ask the clinic's program coordinators so you feel confident you've identified the right one!
Once you are approved to join a program, your clinic or agency will activate your egg donor profile on their database so that prospective Intended Parents (IPs) can review online and decide if you are the right candidate for their family-building journey. In order to ensure you are presenting yourself in the best possible light – and to satisfy your own curiosity – it is perfectly appropriate to request a copy of your profile, so you have a chance to peruse your profile through the eyes of an Intended Parent and this gives you the opportunity to edit essay answers if you wish to be more expressive or swap out photos that may not feature you in the best light.
While most programs do not talk specifics about who will benefit from your eggs, you will probably be interested to learn a bit about the folks you'll be helping. Traditionally smaller clinics have patients who are local to the area or based in the US, while larger clinics may cater to patients locally, regionally, nationally, and even international individuals or couples. You may also be asked to consider if a patient's sexual orientation matters, or whether you feel that all people have the right to be parents. If these issues are important to you, then ask.
With the explosion of at-home DNA testing and the availability of social media, it's difficult to keep anything "anonymous" these days. Therefore, clinics are changing how they refer to the various types of legal arrangements by reflecting the growing trend: "de-identified" is replacing "anonymous" by signifying a cycle where there is no exchange of personal information between egg donor and intended parents by the clinic (however, no guarantee will be made that you can remain de-identified indefinitely). Where the possibility of a relationship exists, "semi-open," "open," or "known" reference varying degrees of information exchange and contact between parties, it's critical to inquire, "what types of arrangements are most common?" and think about which you prefer, now and down the road.
Along these lines, you can participate in egg donor registries, like EDC Nexus, that ask for annual medical updates for the sake of everyone's continued well-being and (if you desire) to help you stay connected to your donor-conceived families. It is worth asking your program if you will be enrolled on a donor "registry " so that your donor-conceived family has access to your updated medical history if it changes over the years. This will also serve you, the egg donor, because you have the option of hearing about any health issues that may arise with the children from your donation. In the case of EDC Nexus, this information is exchanged and if "contact" was part of your cycle's arrangement, you can communicate through their private and secure platform. Other registries, such as the Donor Sibling Registry, function most commonly as a means of connecting siblings, (from families who used the same sperm or egg donor) to each other through a public database.
There will be many appointments required before, and during, your treatment cycle. Depending upon how far you live from the fertility center determines the amount of time you are required to spend traveling to, and from, for screening. If you are local to the clinic, this may not be a huge inconvenience however, if you are in a different city (or state), visiting your clinic proves more challenging. Therefore, it is important to hear how often, and where, you will be seen for all appointments and how long each screening visit is anticipated to take so you can set your expectations accordingly.
Of course, compensation is always a hot topic and the amount you will receive at the completion of your egg retrieval is determined when you register, and is usually a factor of many variables determined by the clinic or agency: geographic region of the program, characteristics or ethnicities, previous cycle history, education, etc. However, it is also important to hear when, and how, will you receive compensation. There is nothing more frustrating to a donor than completing an egg retrieval, leaving the fertility clinic to recover, but being unsure how you will be paid so it is important for your peace-of-mind to hear if you will receive a check in person when you return for a follow-up visit, or a check mailed to you, or an ACH deposit from an escrow account.
Most egg donor cycles go quite smoothly and result in a positive experience for everyone involved. However, if your clinic discovers you are not responding well to stimulation medication, or your intended parents must stop the cycle for any reason, it's helpful to ask if, and how much, you will be compensated should the cycle be cancelled prior to your egg retrieval. Each clinic has their own protocol (and it will be outlined in your legal contract) should this unfortunate situation arise, but it is customary to receive some sort of reduced remuneration if you have started medication and the cycle is halted for reasons beyond your control. However, you are not entitled to compensation if you are deemed the reason for cancellation. In the situation where a donor's ovarian response is sub-par, it is most often up to the clinic to determine if the intended parents should cancel the cycle, and whether they should remain matched with you as their egg donor or if they should search for a new candidate.
Lastly, these questions do not cover all the topics one should consider when selecting an egg donor program. However, by asking the interviewer to talk a bit about themselves and provide you with feedback on what current (and former) donors say is the best part about working with their clinic, you will most likely hear about some of the important benefits of choosing one place over some of the other options. Listen for accolades such as "I was given personalized care and attention," "my coordinator was quick to respond to my questions," "I felt so comfortable at every appointment," "if I had any issues, there was someone available to me 24 hours/day." You could even go so far as to request a couple of referrals to hear directly from their donors, in their own words. These critical perspectives go a long way in ensuring you find the best fit for you.
Egg donation is a huge responsibility and offers you an unparallel opportunity to provide the most priceless gifts – which is precisely the reason you should partner with a program that cherishes you at the highest level. By asking a few key questions, you will be in the best possible hands and bring immense happiness to all that benefit from your contributions in hopes of building their precious family!
Jenna Lake is co-founder of EDC Nexus, a unique registry developed to support Intended Parents, Egg Donors and Donor-Conceived Offspring — identified or de-identified — through a private online database providing medical updates and a mode of communication.
First and foremost, Jenna is the proud mother to a teenage, egg donor-conceived son. Her journey through third party reproduction directly launched a 15+ year career overseeing one of the largest clinic-led egg donor programs in the United States. After matching more than 3,000 cycles, and witnessing the ever-increasing demand for donor-conceived families to connect with their genetic and biological stories (and donors to stay informed of their contribution), Jenna helped to create a secure means of exchanging vital information and ensuring greater peace-of-mind on many fronts.
Currently, Jenna also serves as Operations Manager at Egg Donor Connect. She is a past board member of Parents via Egg Donation, former consultant for a surrogate agency, and the author of several articles focusing on Egg Donors and Intended Parents. Jenna can be reached through her LinkedIn profile, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
When considering if you should become an egg donor, our step-by-step guide will help you understand how this all comes together. While it's worth mentioning that every program differs with respect to their acceptance criteria, testing requirements, and matching times, the process is similar enough that you'll have an overview of what takes place from your initial inquiry to your egg retrieval (and beyond).
This article covers the key requirements to becoming an egg donor.
So you're thinking about becoming an egg donor…you’ve conducted research, identified the right fertility clinic where you can donate your eggs and help Intended Parents build their families. You've been access to their full online application only to feel suddenly overwhelmed with the amount of information needed & time required to complete your profile.