Donor 5##

I am up to do just about anything for some extra cash. Over the last 6 years, on top of sipping a lot of caffeine to support my overtime habit, it would not be abnormal to find me in a blood donation chair twice a week donating plasma for beer money or spending weekends in a facility where generic medication was tested on me for the price of couple thousand dollars which paid for my wedding and a trip to Africa. I am a slave to the almighty dollar. Money makes the world go round. This means that any legal opportunity (hold the prostitution jokes) I have to make a little extra cash, I typically go for it.

In July 2014  I decided that I was going to donate my eggs to a stranger and in return I would get $5,000.
 
I put in my information in an on-line application and one week later I had a 30-40 page packet in my mailbox. This included all of the information about the donation process. It also included a profile packet that I was to complete and return. I let all of this sit on the counter for about 2 months before filling anything out. I needed to make sure it was really something I could do. Could I donate (sell) my genetic material to someone to create a life? After two months I decided that I could. I could give someone the chance at a child that they would not have otherwise had. 
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The packet had multiple questions ranging from "eye color" to "describe yourself as a school-age child, teenager etc". This packet is the profile that potential recipient families use to choose their donor. I mailed it in and waited... and waited... and waited. (probably about 2 months) Then finally received a phone call saying that based on my responses I could start the rest of the screening process.

The next step was a psychological screening. This was the most nerve wrecking part of the entire process. I met with a psychologist and was asked the obvious question "why do you want to donate your eggs?". I answered honestly by stating that it was mostly for the monetary stipend and the secondary reason being to help someone. The psych screening is important. You are giving away something that has the potential to create a child that is biologically connected to you. Some people won't be able to get over that fact, some people will. I compared it to donating blood. Hopefully it goes to someone and it is used and does what it is supposed to do, but if it doesn't, I will not be any of the wiser.

After the psych screening I was contacted to come in for a session with a genetic counselor. This meeting was approximately 1 month after the psych screening. This is where I became donor 5##. I was given a donor number to protect my privacy (only the clinic and myself know the number). During this visit we went over my family history and any genetic abnormalities that my offspring may be more predisposed to due to my background and ethnicity. Then, based on the pedigree that was created, I was tested for those genetic abnormalities. This was one perk of the process. I was able to get these screenings at no cost to myself for future reference.

The next visit is a pelvic exam, physical and more blood work. I also took small course with one of the IVF nurses on the injections I would be giving myself once I was matched with a recipient.  The exam was similar to a yearly PAP smear. I patiently embraced the speculum with it's cold lubricating jelly, the unsexy breast fondling and the always awkward attempts at conversation as the doctor manipulated my girly parts. At the end of the exam I sat up as instructed, still naked from the waist down, the physician shook my hand and held it for a brief period and then he said, "you have no idea what this is going to mean for someone. Thank you for doing this". This is the visit where I understood the magnitude of what I was doing. Infertility affects 10% of the population. According to the physicians that I worked with during the donation process, there are far more waiting recipients than there are donors.

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 So that was it. All blood work was normal and I was cleared to be matched with a recipient. It took about 3 months for me to be chosen. A large box of medications were delivered to my house. Then our cycles needed to be synced up. This was done with birth control and an injectable drug called Lupron (disconnects your brain from your uterus). After the birth control was finished and Lupron was started I had another appointment for more blood work, an internal ultrasound (wand in the vagina) and another exam. All was well and my follicles (eggs) were "resting" as they should be at this point in the cycle.

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The following week I had to come for MWF blood draws and ultrasounds to check on the status of the follicles. During this time I had started taking the stimulating injectable meds "Follistm" and "Menopur "(used to boost production of follicles) along with the lupron, so three injections into the tummy one time per day. My breasts were engorged and tender and I started to feel bloated and crampy by the end of the week, which was normal. My follicles grew considerably larger over that week. Overall I gained about 10lbs during the IVF cycle. 



Pre-meds
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Post Meds
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The following Monday was retrieval day. I showed up to the office where there is a procedure/surgical suite for the IVF procedures. I was given an IV, fluids and reglan (anti-nausea med) before the procedure. Then I was wheeled to the procedure room and given propofol, fentanyl and Versed to sedate me. While sedated the physician collected the oocytes (eggs) by inserting a fine needle through my vagina into my ovaries using ultrasound guidance. The procedure took approximately 40 min. They were able to retrieve 26 oocytes. After the procedure I felt minimal pain (relieved with Tylenol and ibuprofen) and was able to resume normal activity the next day. 

 
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Two weeks after retrieval I had to go in for a follow up exam (you don't get your money unless you do this). Everything checked out and while I don't get to know exactly what happens with the recipient family, the physician mentioned that they were very happy with the results of the retrieval. I was asked to donate again. I have decided to do so. Overall the process took one full year. This length of time varies from person to person and the repeat process does not take as long.

My feelings after the donation haven't changed. No regrets, only hope that I did some good for someone and I am pretty happy that I was able to put a down payment on my new house.

To ward off any negativity about the procedure itself from those not so well versed in the female reproductive anatomy/physiology-- this procedure does not prevent me from having kids in the future and no, there is no real fertility risk involved. I say this because the number one question I received about this decision was, "but don't you want kids?". The answer is a resounding yes. We love kids. We want kids. We are expecting to be great parents, we just aren't expecting yet.

I give this information with hopes that others will consider donation. I would love to talk to you about it if you have any questions.








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