As the economy has gone further and further down the proverbial drain, reports claim that the number of applications for egg donation have increased dramatically. However, that is not what we’ve seen in the egg donor program here at the Genetics & IVF Institute. We have received the same average number of applications in the past six months as we did in the preceding two years, with the motivating factor unchanged.
The media tend to report that most young women pursuing egg donation feel it is nothing more than a way to earn extra pocket cash, with little thought given to the complexities of the physical and emotional experience. However, no one has asked the more obvious question – if this is a true statement, are these young women whose motivation is simply to earn extra cash, successful in their quests to be egg donors? The answer, at least for our program, is a resounding no.
Most programs, including our own, have a very lengthy and rigorous screening process that attempts to “weed out” those looking only for a quick buck. While it is fairly simple to complete the initial application online, the true evaluation of a potential donor takes months. Potential donors submit to hours of interviews, medical testing and a psychological evaluation, all requiring their time and a long term commitment. Young women who seem to be doing this solely for monetary compensation are deemed inappropriate as donor candidates, something that can be easily determined during the screening process.
Knowing all of our fully-screened egg donors so well, we can be confident in passing along accurate information about them to potential recipient couples. These are not women interested in cycling to pay the rent or buy food for their families. This is not their full time job. They are women who go through the pain and aggravation of an IVF cycle to help another woman become a mother. They wish their recipient couple well, hoping things work out for them. They gladly rearrange their own schedules to accommodate the needs of the recipient couples and they administer their injections without complaints. While the compensation is appealing, the donors do not receive it until the completion of the cycle and it is not their main reason for donation. By far, the strongest, not to mention most common, motivation for a potential donor to participate is because she has either seen or experienced someone else’s struggle with infertility. Many donors are mothers themselves and cannot imagine another woman not having the opportunity to experience the same joy that she has been blessed with.
The notion that the majority of applicants are applying only because of the downturn in the economy and quality of the egg donor pool now being diluted is simply not true. The egg donors who make it into the program after our rigorous screening requirements are held up to the highest of standards. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.